KARACHI, April 20: The top leadership of the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA) taken into custody following violence on Tuesday, was set free on Wednesday morning. At least 30 people were rounded up when KEDA members reacted violently to the arrest of three shopkeepers, allegedly trading in snatched cell phones. They were booked under three separate FIRs (209/2005, 210/2005 and 211/2005) registered at the Preedy police station.

Sources in the police department said that their release came on the intervention of political hierarchy of the province.

CCPO Tariq Jamil told Dawn on Wednesday that all those arrested for breach of peace had been released as they had been booked under bailable offence but the three shopkeepers arrested from the Electronic Market by the Industrial Crime Unit for their alleged trading in stolen cell phones had not been released.

Meanwhile, the KEDA has described the Tuesday incident as part of a conspiracy, and demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter.

KEDA President Abdul Waheed Memon told a press conference on Wednesday that all electronics markets would be closed down from Saturday unless the false cases registered against office-bearers of the Association were withdrawn.

“Had the police contacted the Association before going for the raid in the market, we would have extended our cooperation to the police as we had done in the past,” he maintained.

Narrating the Tuesday incident, Mr Memon said that at about 5:30 pm, DSP Chaudhry Aslam, TIO Jamshad Town Inspector Tariq Islam and other police officials, along with a heavy contingent of police, conducted raids on shops in the market and took hundreds of cell phones from showcases in their custody.

Several shopkeepers were picked up and pushed into police mobiles, he said, adding that he sought justification for the action, the police officials started hurling abuses. Pointing their weapons at the shopkeepers, the police officials went away, the KEDA chief added.

He said that in protest against the police action, shopkeepers closed their shops and took to the streets.

Mr Memon said that while TPO Saddar and ASP Preedy were trying to pacify the enraged shopkeepers, SHO Preedy Shahrukh resorted to arresting several office-bearers of the Association which aggravated the situation.

Protesting against the arrests, scores of shopkeepers marched to the Preedy police station and courted arrest, Mr Memon said.

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