KARACHI         -          President All City Trader Union was taken under arrest by local police on Wednesday over allegations of defying coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The police took President All City Trader Union Hammad Poonawala into custody along with four others.

The traders had forcibly opened shops disregarding government orders, the police therefore took action and ‘Iron Market’ area of the metropolis was completely shut down.

All City Trader Union members have claimed that the police roughed them up and forced them to shut down shops.

Karachi traders summoned an emergency meeting earlier in the day after their deadline to the Sindh Government to resume businesses in the metropolis expired yesterday.

The Sindh government had asked the traders to wait till Tuesday before they finalise the SOPs needed to resume businesses. “We will finalize the next move if any hindrance from the government is created in refraining us from opening our shops,” said President Sindh Tajir Ittehad Jameel Paracha.

He said that they had to stop paying power dues and expel their employees to overcome the financial constraints faced due to coronavirus lockdown.

Paracha said that the provincial ministers Saeed Ghani and Nasir Hussain Shah were not responding to their phone calls.

Meanwhile, Speaking at a presser later, the trade organisations in the city condemned the arrests and high handedness of the provincial authorities.

Sindh Tajir Ittehad leader Jameel Paracha threatened to launch a jail bharo (fill the jails) movement if their demand to resume businesses in the metropolis is not fulfilled.

He said that the traders would reopen their shops from the first day of the Ramazan. “We will not meet any negotiating team or minister of the provincial government,” he said.

Electronic Dealers Association leader Rizwan Irfan said that Sindh government was only trying to buy some time by trying to engage the traders in talks.

“They have no sympathy towards the miserable condition of traders and labourers who are going through at this time,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, another trade leader Illyas Memon said that both the federal and provincial governments wanted to cripple the businesses. “Thousands of labourers have become unemployed due to closure of shops,” he said adding that they were in no position to pay their utility bills and taxes.

Sindh govt’s response

However, on the other hand, the Education Minister Saeed Ghani said that no one would be allowed to open shops in the province from Ramazan.

“We hope, the traders will understand our perspective,” he said and warned that if traders would try to reopen the businesses then the Sindh Government would forcefully implement its coronavirus lockdown orders.

Saeed Ghani said that they would first consult with the federal government over reopening of the shops. “We have only closed down the shops which reopened today,” he said while rejecting any high handedness of the authorities.

Governor Sindh,

PTI intervene

Meanwhile, Sindh Governor Imran Imsail also telephoned the Inspector General of Police (IG) Sindh Mushtaq Mehar and directed to let go the arrested traders. PTI Karachi President and provincial lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman also reached the Jackson police station to demand immediate release of the traders.

“We reject the arrests of traders,” he said adding that the Sindh Government wanted to destroy every business in the city. He, however, said that the PTI would not let it happen and would stand alongside the traders.