MUZADDARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government has approved an ordinance against hoarding of essential commodities amid outbreak of the novel coronavirus and vowed to take action against culprits in the region.
The development comes two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan directed officials for seeking help from the country’s intelligence agencies to prevent smuggling, hoarding and profiteering.
He stressed that a "tough action against this curse is essential to boost the national economy".
Currently, 49 cases of the contagious disease, Covid-19, have been reported in the mountainous region. However, nine patients have also been discharged from hospitals after full recovery.
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Sharing the details of the newly-introduced ordinance in Muzaffarabad on Sunday, AJK Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana said that the state government has promulgated a new law to fine and jail traders who hoard 30 essential food, medical items and creating their artificial shortage.
He said Premier Imran and AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan paid immediate attention towards complaints about hoarding of edibles amid the lockdown and directed for the necessary legislation. "New ordinance contains a three-year sentence, summary trial and fine equal to 50 per cent of the value of seized items on the hoarders."
The chief secretary further said that hoarding would be a non-bailable offence and its trial would be carried out in special court according to the new law.
“In case, any company, partnership or corporate body is involved in the hoarding, action would be taken against its all directors, managers, agents and members and their case would be trailed in special court,” Rana said.
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He added that stern action against hoarders was necessary as these crimes ultimately resulted in the poor paying a heavy price. “Those who provided wrong information about the hoarders would be jailed for three years with Rs1 million fine. However, correct information giver would be rewarded 10 per cent of the amount deposited to the state treasury.”
Rana further said that the government will not let anyone exploit the prevailing situation.