Shop owners protest as Karachi's Urdu Bazaar threatened by anti-encroachment drive

KARACHI: Shopkeepers and road-side merchants of the city’s Urdu Bazaar staged a protest against the looming anti-encroachment drive which is threatening to raze the historic book market.

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), which launched an operation against illegal encroachments in the city on the Supreme Court’s orders late last year, has given a three-day deadline to shopkeepers to vacate their stalls before they commence the latest phase of the anti-encroachment drive.

The three-day deadline ends on Tuesday midnight.

The protesters, led by the Urdu Bazaar Market Association and the Booksellers Association, highlighted that the famed and beloved Bazaar was not just a group of businesses but a cultural heritage of Karachi.

They said the KMC, under its weeks-long anti-encroachment initiative, had informed them that they should clear out their shops, which was illegal.

The demonstrators also pointed out that their shops had been located in Urdu Bazaar for decades, and urged an end to the illegal demolition of their businesses. 

The Bazaar had been set up through legal procedures and was not an encroachment, they said.

On the other hand, KMC officials insisted that the Urdu Bazaar was located over a drain and they had advised the shopkeepers to vacate in three days.