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Traders go on strike alleging threats from ‘anti-social elements’

The chairman said that he has called the striking traders for a meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue and find a solution.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot |
December 18, 2021 12:37:31 am
The yard of APMC in Halvad town on Friday. Photo: Mayur Raval

ALLEGING THAT “anti-social elements” were threatening and demanding protection money from them, traders and commission agents of Halvad APMC went on an indefinite strike from Friday and announced that they would continue their striker till police take action against these elements.

The yard of Halvad APMC (agricultural produce market committee), one of the biggest wholesale markets of Saurashtra region wore a deserted look as traders and commission agents went on a strike. Their move came a day after they submitted a memorandum to police, alleging one Jaspalsinh Jhala of Kondh village in adjoining Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district had made repeated demands of protection money from Janak Dalwadi, one of the 210 traders of Halvad APMC. The memorandum stated that Jhala had demanded Rs 90 lakh protection money from Dalwadi around four months ago.

Around 10 days ago, the accused threatened Dalwadi again. On December 15, the accused intercepted the victim at a crossroads and threatened the trader one more time, read the memorandum submitted by the traders to police on Thursday.

“This is not about the action taken by police against anti-social elements but the unity of traders. If this continues, such elements would feel embolden and start believing that they can extort money from anyone. Therefore, we are on strike,” Hitesh Thakkar, leader of the traders of Halvad APMC said on Friday.

After Dalwadi’s complaint, police had booked Jhala for extortion bid and criminal intimidation and had arrested him around four months ago. The accused had, however, walked out on bail later.

The APMC administration said it was with the traders over the issue. “The first time, the accused dared to go to the office of Dalwadi and demand protection money. Then again, he intercepted the trader at Sara Chowkadi and demanded protection money. How the traders can do business in such an environment? How the APMCs can function without traders. Therefore, we are requesting that the accused be arrested immediately and is given a taste law by applying appropriate Sections of IPC against him,” Ranchhod Patel, chairman of Halvad APMC said.

Halvad APMC is a major primary market of cotton, groundnut, fennel and cumin seeds. Dalwadi told reporters on Friday that on December 15, Jhala told him that he had not forgotten him and that he wanted money even now.

Meanwhile, police said that they were taking due legal action. “We booked and arrested the accused after getting the first complaint of extortion bid. After the accused got bailed and threatened the accused again, we registered the complaint of the victim one more time and has filed another FIR against the accused under IPC Section 506(2) (criminal intimidation). The accused on the run presently. But we shall invoke PASA (Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act) if warranted,” Subodh Odedra, superintendent of police of Morbi district said.

The SP said that police officers had already held a meeting with traders of Halvad APMC and assured them of due legal action against the accused.

The chairman said that he has called the striking traders for a meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue and find a solution.

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