Several traders at a Ramazan Bazaar in Gujrat on Sunday boycotted work and vandalised the facility to protest losses, they said, they were suffering on account of the government’s failure to adequately subsidise their businesses.
The activities at the Ramazan Bazaar set up at Shah Jahangir Road resumed after the district administration and the police arrived at the scene and held negotiations with the traders.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Zulfiqar, who runs a vegetables stall at the bazaar, said it was not possible for him to sell vegetables at the prices notified by the administration. He said the government had yet to honour its commitment to provide a subsidy on the items sold at the bazaar. “I cannot sell potatoes at Rs30 per kilo here if I purchase it at Rs45 per kilo from the Sabzi Mandi,” he said.
The protesting traders also included those with fruits and date stalls at the bazaar.
Muhammad Arshad and Yasir Ali, fruits vendors, said the difference between the prices notified by the government and those at which fruits were available at the market was too high. “I’ll respect the notified prices if the government agrees to pay the difference,” Ali said.
Talking to The Tribune, Gujrat district coordination officer Nawazish Ali rejected that the government was not subsidising items sold at the Ramazan Bazaars. “The matter has been settled now. The traders have committed to selling fruits and vegetables at prices set by the government,” he said.
The DCO said the traders were told to maintain a difference of at least Rs10 per kilo between ramazan bazaar prices and those in the open market. He said the administration would ensure that the arrangement was being followed in all 13 ramazan bazaars in the district.
TMA staff end strike after colleagues released
Meanwhile, a boycott of work by tehsil municipal administration officials following the arrest of two TMA workers during the traders’ demonstration ended after they were released and the TMA assured of action against the policemen responsible for the arrests.
The TMA workers earlier suspended water supply to Gujrat tehsil and blocked most major roads by parking garbage carrying vehicles in the middle. The supply was resumed at around 4pm after B Division police released sub-divisional officer (City) Mustafa Gillani and storekeeper Imran Shahid.
Gujrat TMO Syed Shahbaz Naqvi said the two employees were protecting the equipment provided for the bazaar by the TMA when some policemen arrested them. “We have ended the strike on the district police officer’s assurance that he will take action against the policemen responsible for the arrests,” he said.
SHO Javed Gujjar said the two workers were mistaken by the police to be traders trying to damage the TMA’s equipment. “We arrested them to protect the equipment,” he said.
Action agianst officials found swindling customers
Two market committee officials in a Kot Momim ramazan bazaar have been directed to compensate the government for the money they are charged with swindling by misreporting sales statistics between July 21 and July 25.
The inquiry against SIs Rao Waqar and Naveed Aslam has recommended action against them under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act (PEEDA).
The two officials are charged with swindling thousands of rupees by showing sale of gram pulse and gram flour to be double the actual quantity sold at the bazaar in the five days.
The probe found that the two officials had swindled thousands of rupees by selling the two items without the Rs20 subsidy announced by the government.
Fines worth Rs12,500 were imposed on vendors for overpricing snacks sold at iftar time in Kot Momin in the last week.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.