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LAHORE: All Pakistan Anjuman Tajran (APAT) on Friday accused the police of forcing shopkeepers to close their businesses despite the fact that both the administration and traders after a consultation had decided to keep the businesses shut on Saturday and Sunday.

APAT Supreme Council’s Chairman Naeem Mir while addressing a press conference claimed that the APAT met with the Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, where they agreed to keep businesses open on Nov 9 and Nov 10. He added that they had agreed to shut the markets on Nov 11 and 12.

It may be worth mentioning that the provincial government had declared a smog lockdown in Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot, and Narowal — all of which have had Air Quality Index (AQI) readings beyond safe limits.

However, in a revised notification issued on Thursday, the Lahore administration granted permission for city markets and shopping centres to remain open today (on Friday), while affirming a complete closure of businesses on Saturday and Sunday.

Naeem Mir alleged that the police today (Friday) reached the markets in the morning and forced the businessmen to close down their shops. He said Friday was a very important day for the traders as shopkeepers from all over the province come to Lahore for procurement.

He demanded that as today’s rain had made a visible reduction in smog, the government should take back the lockdown announcement.

Some other trader leaders including Ashraf Bhatti and Sohail Butt while speaking on this occasion condemned that once it had been decided to observe a two-day lockdown then there was no justification for police action on Friday.

They demanded the immediate release of those traders who had been arrested during the police action. They asked the Chief Minister to order an enquiry into the incident and take action against those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Environment Minister Bilal Afzal in a statement said that the AQI of Lahore declined to 60 only due to rain. He hoped that rain and smart lockdown would keep the AQI within reasonable limits during the next week. He said that smart lockdown would continue.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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