LAHORE - It is the month of blessings and the season when a number of ripe fruits come in the market. Unfortunately the prices of all fruits are sky rocketing and beyond the reach of common man. The challenge to the situation came from social media. Activists called for three-day boycott (from Friday to Sunday) of buying fruit due to price hike.

It looked like storm in a tea cup as social media activists took it as a crusade to spread the word. Throughout the day on Friday #FruitBoycott (the first day of strike) it was the top trend on twitter.

Moving away from the virtual world what was the reality on the ground? Fruit boycott campaign was partially observed in the city. Profiteers still managed to get their price of choice from consumers despite over 100 price control magistrates trying the control the situation. The fruits vendors who had been affected blamed market committee for inflation.

A hashtag #FruitBoycott was the very first time that the social media generated a campaign for to check profiteers. The message of #FruitBoycott was the most sent and followed message in different WhatsApp groups. People posted this message with images of different fruits on the walls of their facebook accounts. The Nation visited different areas of the city to take stock of the situation. 45-year-old Kaisar Rasool a resident of Johar Town said that the entire system is corrupt. “It is not the fault of fruit vendors. The government should ensure price control at the source from where they buy fruit.

“The prices of good quality fruits are high. Take for example the bananas here are being sold Rs 180 for one dozen but the lesser quality is available for Rs 140,” Kaisar said.

The situation was bleak for Chacha (Uncle) Aslam, 55, who has road side fruit shop in Main Market, Gulberg. “There have been no customers since morning and we have heard there is some boycott going on. What should we do? The real problem lies at market committee from where we got fruit on inflated prices. The business activity was sluggish,” Aslam said.

Shabbir Ahmed, who hails from Pakpattan, Mohala Faridnagar is fruit vendor in Samanabad. “When we get banana Rs 140 per dozen then subsequently we have to sell it with profit. It is market committee from where we get the fruits on inflated prices,” he said.

“We see no boycott of people but many of them are harsh in behavior than previous days. They are buying fruits but at the end of the day it is us who decides the rate. When it is evening the rates come down as tomorrow we will bring fresh fruit,” Shabbir Ahmed a vendor in the same area said.

Twitter users remained active on twitter. Activist and twitter user @ZaidZamanHamid tweeted that “Boycott the supermarkets, huge shops, market Mafias BUT dont hurt these poorest segments who will go hungry if they dont sell” He posted the tweet with a picture of old man lying on the fruit cart.

Per kg Apple Murree was sold at Rs 140 as against official fixed price of Rs 90 to 96, Iranian Apple was quite popular among consumers. It was being sold at Rs 230 while the official price is Rs 190 to 196, New Zealand apple was being sold at Rs 300 compared to fixed price of Rs 260 to 266, China apple was sold at Rs 250 to fixed price Rs 209 to 214.

Per kg yellow apricot was sold at Rs 110. Its fixed price was Rs 85 to Rs 90. White apricot was sold at Rs 200 while the fixed price was Rs 160 to Rs166. Banana was sold at Rs 150 while fixed price was Rs 102 to 106, Sindhri mango was sold at Rs 160 while its fixed price was Rs 120 to Rs 126. Plum (alubukhara) was sold at Rs 300 and its fixed price was Rs 218 to Rs 224 per kg, Peach was sold at Rs 200 to fixed price Rs 130 to 136.

Price control magistrates raided 1,004 places and imposed fined worth Rs 62,000 and lodged FIRs against 77 profiteers. In drive against the profiteers 81 people were arrested and 94 people were directly sent to jail.