KARACHI: The major gold markets of Karachi and Hyderabad remained closed on Friday to mark a token protest against extortionists (bhatta mafia), who have terrorised gold dealers and forced them to pay large sums of money in exchange for the wellbeing of their lives and businesses.
The main Bullion Exchange, around 600 gold shops and 1,200 factories in Karachi and Hyderabad remained closed to protest and have their voices heard by the government.
A gold dealer said that over the past month, extortionists had resorted to blackmailing, kidnapping and even killing gold traders, if they did not pay them the amount of money demanded on time.
He commented that Friday had been “a step towards illuminating the darkness” that had surrounded the lives of gold dealers and warned that if the government did not provide them with protection, gold markets across the country would shut down in protest.
Meanwhile, prices of the precious metal hit a new record high in the markets that did remain open in other parts of the country, especially Punjab.
A dealer informed that prices had reached Rs42,500 per tola (11.7 grams) on Friday, while the ten gram rate was recorded at Rs36,428.
The dealer said that prices had gone up as a result of increased demand in Punjab. Gold rates were Rs100 lower in Punjab a day earlier compared with the closing value of the Bullion Exchange. This led to investors to cash in on the difference.
Rates reached a fresh peak of $1,317 per ounce in the international bullion markets.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2010.