ISLAMABAD - Muhammad Naeem, the owner of famous ‘Savor Foods’, is the latest case among the many incidents where threats were hurled by extortionists to individuals.
It all started in the last week of December 2013, when unknown persons started threatening calls to two brothers including Muhammad Naeem (elder) and Muhammad Nadeem (younger), the owners of ‘Savor Foods’, which is doing roaring business in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“Arrange 50 million rupee or face dire consequences,” Naeem quoted the caller, who identified himself as a commander of TTP, as having said to the local police. However, the police did not take these threats seriously, he regretted.
There were no hollow threats only, Naeem said, as on January 2, 2014, a blast took place outside their house situated in Defence Housing Authority, Islamabad. “It was a warning from the extortionists,” Naeem told police which had registered a case but failed to trace and arrest the accused.
“Sihala police had registered a case against unknown accused and investigation is still on,” Muhammad Amin, an ASI of Sihala police told The Nation Thursday.
The extortion networks have penetrated deep into the system with multiple overlaps of various terrorist and criminals, and little hope for relief to the target communities, especially the traders and businessmen.
The issue of extortion had captured media headline last year when former IGP Islamabad told the Islamabad High Court on September 9, 2013 merchants of Islamabad fruit market were paying huge sums to extortionists to keep running businesses.
“According to my investigation, these merchants pay Rs 4.5 million each month to keep their businesses running,” IGP Sikander Hayat had told the court.
“It’s true that Islamabad has become heaven for kidnappers and extortionists. During the investigations, we got know TTP was collecting huge sums with the help of local terrorists,” a mid career police officer of Islamabad police, requesting anonymity, told this scribe.
When asked, he did not rule out the possibility of police officials and students of seminaries operating in the twin cities backing the extortionists.
“Last year, the ICT police chief had suspended many police officials including an SHO of Sabzi Mandi police station, for allegedly giving protocol to an extortionist,” the officer said.
Background interviews and off-the record conversation with traders and security officials revealed the traders and wealthy people even in Islamabad were living under threats from extortionists and criminal gangs operating in Islamabad freely.
“Extortionists are still collecting money from us continuously. We have raised voice against them. Resultantly, the extortionists are threatening to kill us along with family,” one of top merchants of Islamabad fruit mandi told this scribe.
He was not alone to receive threats from extortionists as a large number of other traders have recently received death threats.
“We can’t disclose it publicly due to fear of getting shot down by the extortionists,” a dozen of traders said as they spoke to this scribe the other day.
Requesting anonymity, a top merchant of Islamabad fruit Market confirmed to The Nation that traders have almost reached consensus to hire services of a local security firm to get protection from extortionists and kidnappers.
Sources from law enforcement agencies disclosed that extortionists were operating mainly from two localities of Islamabad including Bhara Kaho and slum areas of E-11 (commonly known as Afghan Basti situated in the jurisdiction of Sabzi Mandi police station), a charge that the Islamabad capital police continues to deny. Bahara Kaho was the same locality from where Naseer ud Din Haqqani, one of the top men of Haqqani Network, had been living until gunned down in November last year.