Bhatta mafia: Shopkeepers livid as extortionists show up at their doorsteps

They demanded that the medicine shops pay at least Rs5,000.

Express August 24, 2011

KARACHI: The usually calm streets of the Aram Bagh Medicine Market morphed into an amalgam of burnt tyres and angry shopkeepers yelling their frustration over the extortion mafia.

The lucrative Aram Bagh Road Medicine Street sells hundreds of drug and homeopathic medicines. Late Wednesday morning, about 10 people on motorcycles rode up to the market and handed the shopkeepers slips, demanding money and warned them with “dire consequences” if they called the police. The livid shopkeepers shut shop till 2 pm until the police came and assured them of security.

A shopkeeper told The Express Tribune that the men spent at least half an hour in the market, going from shop to shop demanding between Rs5,000 and Rs100,000 depending on the size of the business and shop.

“No one would dare lodge a complaint against the extortionists because of their arm-twisting tactics,” he said.

The traders believe that the police and Rangers have failed to protect their community which is why trade bodies have been demanding that the army be called in to control the law and order in Karachi.

MPA Advocate Muqeem Alam visited the market and expressed sympathy with the traders and asked the police to deploy a mobile van in the area.

The chairman of the All Karachi Traders Union, Atiq Meer, accused extortionists of expanding their base despite the government’s claim of taking strict action .

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th,  2011.