rawalpindi - The registration of a criminal case against seven stallholders in the Landa Bazaar Saddar by the city traffic and local police on account of encroachments has earned wrath of high-ups of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB), sources informed The Nation yesterday.

The RCB high-ups have termed the police action against the stallholders as “interference into their official matters” saying all the stallholders were permitted to display their stuff in the Landa Bazaar against fee of Rs300 each. The civic body has also decided to take up the matter with the City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi, source said.

The city district government managers and heads of all civic bodies have been launching anti-encroachment operations across the district on directions of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench for smooth flow of traffic. The possible collision between the RCB and police department may harm the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. 

According to sources, a team of city traffic police headed by Inspector Cantt Bashir Ahmed Toor, following the instructions of acting Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Shahid Yousaf, launched an anti-encroachment operation Sunday last in Landa Bazaar Saddar and arrested seven stallholders and seized their stuff. Later, the stallholders were shifted to Cantt Police Station where a criminal case was registered against them under section 341/34 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). This not only triggered unrest among the other stallholders who launched protest demonstration against the CTP but also shocked the high-ups of RCB, an authority who allowed the traders and vendors for establishing the stalls in the Landa Bazaar after charging Rs300 fee each. Sources said the top management of RCB expressed its deep concerns over police involvement in their official matters.

The RCB Enforcement Cell Superintendent Hassan Jan, while talking to The Nation, said police illegally implicated poor stallholders in a criminal case. He said launching of anti-encroachment operation in Cantt and garrison was exclusive responsibility and job of the RCB and not of any other department. He said police intervened into internal matters of the RCB and he had brought the entire episode into notice of Additional Chief Executive Officer Masoom Umer for legal action against the violators. “We allow all the stallholders to set up their stalls by charging Rs300 each and police are not authorised to uproot their stalls,” he said.  He claimed the management of RCB will also meet the CPO to draw his attention towards violation being made by police. Inspector Bashir Ahmed Toor, however, said police would not allow anybody to create hurdles in smooth flow of traffic by setting up stalls on roads. On the other hand, a court of law granted bails to detained stallholders.