Sale of combustible material: ICT starts shutting down sanitary, paint shops

Traders protest against the move  

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Obaid Abbasi

Islamabad

The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration has started closing down sanitary and paint shops in the city, claiming that they were involved in selling kerosene and other combustible material, which could be used by protesters for sabotage activities.

The closure of sanitary and paint shops has pushed the traders involved in the business to the brink of crisis.

It was learnt that following the ICT administration’s order, assistant commissioners (ACs) have started forcibly closing down all sanitary, hardware and paint shops in different areas on Saturday evening.

The ACs had allegedly conducted the clampdown without any written orders and the act led to the exchange of hot words between the ICT Administration officials and the traders.

The traders expressed their strong protest after their shops were forcibly closed down.

In the Aabpara market, the clampdown was led by an operator of AC (Secretariat) Hassan Waqar Cheema, which led to the exchange of hot words between him and the traders.

The traders alleged that the operator threatened the traders of dire consequences when they demanded to show them written orders for closing down the shops.

“I’m surprised to see the behaviour of AC Cheema’s operator who threatened me of dire consequences,’ Nasir Khan, a sanitary trader in the Aabpara market.

Another trader said that he failed to understand why the ICT Administration was forcibly closing down the shops without any reason or written orders.

Najeeb-ur Rehman, another trader in Aabpara market, who seemed upset over the forced closure of his shop, called the ICT Administration’s action illegal and unwarranted.

The shopkeepers said that AC Waqar preferred to send his operator instead of personally visiting the shops.

The traders alleged that the operator misbehaved with them and hurled threats at them. “Hassan Waqar Cheema should have personally visited the market instead of sending his operator,” said Faisal Chaudhry, another trader in the Aabpara market.

The traders claimed that the Aabpara market was the easiest target for the administration officials or the protesters alike. “Whenever a party announces a protest in the Aabapara market, we become the first target of the siege and blockade,” said Hamud-ur Rehman, a trader.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat told Daily Morning Mail that the ICT Administration had received orders from high-ups to close down all hardware, sanitary and paint shops where kerosene oil, combustible material and wooden sticks are sold which could be used by the protest participants for a sabotage activity.

He claimed that after Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan top leadership including its chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi was arrested, they feared a protest could be staged by the party workers in Islamabad who could use nails, sticks and kerosene oil for a sabotage activity.