Magistrate ‘held hostage’ by police to ‘save’ profiteers

Shopkeepers released after standoff at police station


Rana Yasif May 05, 2020
A woman shops in a grocery store. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: A price control magistrate was kept hostage at a police station for over an hour to restrain him from imposing fine on shopkeepers who were allegedly paying protection money.

The police officials threatened the magistrate of dire consequences if he imposed fine on any shopkeeper involved in selling products on high rates in Badamibagh police precincts.

The magistrate took three shopkeepers to the police station and ordered six others to report there themselves.

Two of the nine shopkeepers refused to pay fine an said they were ready to face legal proceedings, while the rest were ready to pay the penalty for selling products at exorbitant rates.

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Sources said that the magistrate filled prosecution documents against the two shopkeepers who wished to face legal proceedings, and requested the police to initiate action against them. However, Head Constable Shahid Yousaf refused to initiate legal proceedings against them.

The sources claimed that fiery arguments were exchanged between police officials and the magistrate over imposition of fines. Finally the police officials released all the  shopkeepers.

The sources said some police officials are involved in receiving monthly extortion from some traders and allowing them to flout the rules regarding lockdown and prices. They said a scuffle also took place a few days back between some traders and police officials.

“How can you people release the shopkeepers who have been called here to pay the fine for selling products on high rates,” the magistrate reportedly asked the officials.

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"The shopkeepers were involved in profiteering and the government’s machinery will work against them,” he added.

The sources said the police officials remained adamant in opposing imposition of the fine.
Meanwhile, the magistrate contacted the DCO office. After the intervention of the control room the cops agreed to impose fine against two shopkeepers.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Lahore CCPO Zulfiqar Hameed said an inquiry will be conducted into the matter and those responsible will face action. He said he is assigninh the inquiry to SSP Discipline Ibadat Nisar.

The Badamibagh police station SHO said some shopkeepers had been brought to the police station but he did not know about the allegations of bribery. He said he would  take action if the allegation is proved. Head Constable Shahid denied the allegations against the police officials but confirmed the release of the shopkeepers.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2020.

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