Police arrest eight hotel owners during ‘anti-encroachment operation’

Burns Road food street hotel owners accuse police of extortion, bribery

​ Our Correspondent December 11, 2019

KARACHI: Aram Bagh Police arrested eight hotel owners on Monday night during a raid against encroachments at the Burns Road food street and registered a case against them. The hotel owners levelled several accusations against the police including allegations of extortion while Aram Bagh SHO accused one of the hotel owners of being a drunkard and lying under the influence of alcohol.

'Food street'

The hotel owners claim that Sharae Liaquat, known as Burns Road, had been given the status of a food street by the Sindh government and previous civil administration. They lamented that laying equipment for barbecue and tables outside hotels on a food street are allowed everywhere in the world.

The hotel owners said that the police claim that the action was taken due to judicial orders. However, they added, this is not the police job. The police was given this job by the court due to the failure of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to remove encroachments.

'Extortion, bribery'

Bhola, the owner of Anwar Mutton Hotel, on Burns Road said that he had Rs150,000 in cash in his pocket when the cops shoved him into the police mobile. There was no money left in his pocket by the time they reached the station, he claimed.

Other hotel owners also claimed that they not only serve free food at their hotels to police officials of Aram Bagh, Artillery Maidan and Preedy Police Stations but also parcel food for them to take with them.

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They said that more than 10 fruit vendors had set-up pushcarts around Pakistan Chowk, on Muhammad Bin Qasim Road and in other areas near Fresco, and the cops allegedly take Rs200 from each fruit vendor. The police don't trouble them ever, they added.

Further allegations were levelled at an official of Aram Bagh Police Station. The brother of an arrested hotel owner claimed that the official approached him, on behalf of the SHO, and demanded Rs10,000 every week to be allowed to place tables outside their hotel on Burns Road food street. No action would be taken against us if we agreed to these terms, added the brother.

'Under the influence'

Aram Bagh SHO claimed that the owner of Anwar Mutton Hotel was intoxicated and was saying these things under the influence of alcohol. The SHO said that the hotel owner would get in deep trouble if his medical examination is carried out and it reveals alcohol consumption.

The SHO denied allegations of extortion and maintained that the police had not extorted money from any hotel owner or fruit vendor. He maintained that the anti-encroachment operation was carried out on the directives of AIG Ghulam Nabi Memon, South DIG and South SSP. The hotel owners are levelling baseless accusations, he said, adding that no food was taken by the cops free of cost from any hotel. The police's honesty is evident from the fact that KMC's job was assigned to the police, he said. 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2019.


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