ISLAMABAD: Youths from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) staged a protest demonstration at the federal capital against an illegal counterfeit cigarette factory and its owner, and pledged to continue their struggle till the factory is sealed.
Addressing a press conference here on Monday, a large number of youths from Rowani, a village in the outskirts of Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir at the National Press Club, Islamabad demanded of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the chief justice of Pakistan, and the chairman NAB to take notice of the illegal counterfeit cigarette factory, “Wayward” by forming a commission to probe the issue and take owner of the factory and his facilitators to task.
The youths from Rowani village of Azad Kashmir (Muzaffarabad), speaking at the press conference, stated that Babar Taj, two years ago established the said cigarette factory, in the residential area without fulfilling legal requirements and the area in Rowani Park, in outskirts of Muzaffarabad was turned into a “No Go Area”.
They alleged that illegal counterfeit cigarettes with trade marks of other registered cigarette companies are being manufactured in this factory with highly harmful health material and this illegal counterfeit cigarettes are being supplied in various areas of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
They accused that the factory has no national tax number and the factory management does not pay taxes.
The youths also stated that in various markets and bazaars of other cities including Muzaffarabad, Neelam, Mirpur, police and the local administration confiscated illegal counterfeit cigarettes in raids, FIR was also registered against the persons concerned and shopkeepers.
The youths said that on March 11, a major operation was launched against the factory in which four trucks full of cigarettes were stopped from crossing Kohala Bridge and a heavy consignment of loaded goods (cigarettes) was confiscated from them.
An FIR has been registered against the owner and those caught with the trucks. The officer registered an FIR against the owner and proceedings were initiated.
Nine people caught with the trucks testified that the counterfeit cigarettes were loaded in trucks from the factory in Rowani.
Although the factory had apparently been shut down for a long time due to public protests, the counterfeit cigarettes are being manufactured in bulk and are being supplied to various markets from this factory, the youths said.
The youths said that the owner of the factory is luring youths of Rowani areas and outskirts towards counterfeit cigerattte and is distributing death among the people, especially among the youth and enjoys the backing of politicians, bureaucrats, and influential persons.
The youths said that they would continue to raise voice against those counterfeiters at every forum and continue their struggle.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021