A complete shutter-down strike was observed on Wednesday following the killing of a trader in Shershah market a day earlier. Commercial and trading activities in the city will be resumed from today.
The call for the strike was made by the All Karachi Trader Ittehad, which had been upset with the increase in extortion cases as well as the murder and abduction of traders. Syed Qarar Ali, a brother of Syed Shakir Ali, who was a former Sindh MPA belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was shot dead by armed men on Tuesday at his shop in the Shershah scrap market. The MPA’s younger brother, Zakir Ali, was also injured in the incident.
The chairman of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, Atiq Mir, told The Express Tribune that despite the successful strike, no senior government official bothered to contact him throughout the day. “This behaviour is disrespectful and can be termed the government’s high handedness,” he said. Mir added that the organisation called a meeting on Wednesday evening in which it was decided that the government would be given a 72-hour ultimatum to ensure security against extortionists and target killers. “We will call for another strike if the situation does not improve before the deadline,” he warned.
The strike was backed by the Muttahida Quami Movement, Sunni Ittehad Council, transporters’ associations and various other trade bodies. The city looked deserted as the busiest markets, including Kharadar, Jodia Bazaar, Paan Mandi, Saddar, Bolton Market, Tariq Road, Zamzama and Hyderi Market, remained closed. The examinations of the Federal Urdu University, Intermediate board, Sindh Board of Technical Education and Jinnah College for Women were postponed and educational institutions were closed as well. A contingent of law enforcers comprising personnel from the Rangers and police was deployed on the roads to avoid any unpleasant incident.
Transport was also scarce as the Karachi Transport Ittehad had announced on Tuesday night that it would support the strike. “The representatives of the traders contacted us to get our support,” said the president of the group, Irshad Bukhari. “We backed the strike because the traders are our brothers. All transporters were asked to keep their vehicles off the road. But we could not get everybody to comply with our request,” he said. “A bus owner loses about Rs2,000 in a one-day strike and it also disrupts the routine of the drivers and conductors.”
The subordinate courts of the Karachi division also remained closed as the staff and litigants were left without conveyance. The under trial prisoners were not brought to the city court in light of the tension which gripped the city during the strike. The Malir district court was also shut and dozens of cases had to be adjourned. However, the Sindh High Court bench functioned normally.
The president of the Shershah scrap market association, Mohammad Zahid, told The Express Tribune that all the shops in the market will be open today. He added that there are at least three traders in the market who received extortion slips and have not opened their shops since last week. “The government and law enforcers only give us false assurances to pacify us,” he said. “All we can do now is to pick up the bodies of our murdered colleagues and protest. It seems as if asking law enforcers to do something is futile.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.
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