KARACHI: Lovers of Defence’s open-air tea cafes, better known as dhabas, were left without their caffeine fix on Tuesday as the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) reportedly took bulldozers to all dhabas in Chota Bukhari area earlier in the day.
A dhaba owner, who requested not to be named, told The Express Tribune that DHA personnel arrived between 8:30am and 9am and razed the outdoor sitting areas of all such food joints in the area.
According to him, DHA personnel had been harassing the visitors and owners of the dhabas on a daily basis. “They confiscate our chairs and tables and only release them once we have paid a fine,” he said, adding that the money received from those fines was allegedly not going in the DHA coffers.
Another owner of a dhaba-like establishment said they pay a green belt tax to the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and have receipts to prove it, but DHA vigilance teams still harass owners and even arrest workers, which has been having a negative effect on their business.
“The area where we have been operating our business is a green belt and is supposed to be for the use of the general public, but DHA has been illegally trying to remove our businesses,” he said, also requesting anonymity.
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Another businessman, busy levelling the sitting area with labourers to make space for the evening rush, and owns approximately one dozen dhabas said he couldn’t just shut down the street cafes because he had invested millions in them.
“We will continue to operate and we thank all those people who keep on visiting us,” he said, adding that all dhaba owners in the vicinity plan to file a case against DHA.
Residents, however, seemed more content with DHA’s action.
Muhammad Ali, a resident of Chota Bukhari, the commercial area where most dhabas are clustered, said the high volume of eateries and their customers has been affecting the privacy of area residents.
He said that since these places are open way past midnight, the area’s tranquility has suffered.
A number of attempts were made to contact DHA for comment, but they could not be reached.
Soon after the authorities’ steps, pictures of the destroyed dhabas were posted on social media where users condemned the destruction. It can be seen in the pictures that only the outside area of the cafes were destroyed whereas the establishments used as shops remain unaffected.
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