Rule of law: Food inspection team attacked with bricks

Four members of the raiding team were injured


Shamsul Islam August 26, 2015
Neighbours and officials clashed in the presence of cops. PHOTO: EXPRESS

FAISALABAD:


A team of government officials that raided a beverage factory in Sidhpura on Tuesday was thrashed by neighbours and workers of the factory when they tried to seal it. 


Assistant Commissioner Shahrukh Khan Niazi, who is in charge of a drive against adulterated foods in the city, had led the raid against Sajjad Soda Water Factory, in the Ghulam Muhammad Abad police precinct.

Niazi told The Express Tribune that the factory was being operated without a licence and that they had received several complaints about unhygienic beverages being manufactured there. When they tried to seal the factory, he said, some of the workers called up their relatives in the area.

“We took four people – Shehzad, Ali Naveed, Imran Ali and Safdar Hussain – into custody for resisting us. A large crowd of men, women and children then gathered in the area and pelted us with stones and bricks.”

Four members of the raiding team were injured and the rioters managed to free the four men, he said.

“The rioters detained us so I called up police,” Nizai said.

A heavy police contingent arrived at the scene. Many people, apparently residents of the area, climbed on top of roofs and threw bottles and bricks at the police, he said. “The police are looking for the rioting workers that fled the scene…arresting them is a top priority.” He said they had filed a complaint against the workers for detaining them, injuring officials, creating a law and order situation, attacking a raiding party, and hindering official business.  “We will not back out of inspecting factories endangering the lives of people,” Niazi said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Jamaat Ali, one of the residents of the area, said the factory had been operating for several years. “It not only employs people from most of the households in the area but also manufactures affordable good quality beverages.”

He said people in the area liked the beverage and its demand had been increasing by the day.

“Three days ago, two men visited the factory and tried to extort money from the owner…they said they had been sent by the local administration.” Ali said they had threatened to seal the factory and confiscate the inventories if they were not paid but the factory owner had told them that he would not be blackmailed.

He said the assistant commissioner and his team had rounded up factory workers during their inspection. “A number of neighbours gathered and tried to convince the officials that the workers had done nothing wrong. The officials got into an argument with the people…the argument later turned into a scuffle.”

Responding to the allegation of extortion, Niazi said it was untrue. The administration has been tasked with a crackdown on companies manufacturing substandard food without discrimination, he said. “We are only doing our job.”SHO Ali Imran said they had registered a case against five nominated and 250 unidentified rioters. Three of the five nominated suspects, Aslam, Rana Zahid and Ali Naveed, have been arrested. He said a case had been registered against them under Section 7ATA among clauses.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2015.

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