Ghaziabad’s IT shopkeepers oppose extortion demand


Ghaziabad : Shopkeepers dealing in computer hardware at western Uttar Pradesh’s largest IT market here are up in arms over weekly extortion demands by a man who, they allege, enjoys political patronage.

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The shopkeepers have told the police that Mast Ram Bhati set a shop on fire after the owner refused to pay him money.

Angered over his increasing extortion demand, the Computer Association of Ghaziabad met Superintendent of Police (City) Vijay Bhushan and demanded action against Bhati.

Traders at Shiva Tower – the largest IT hardware market of western Uttar Pradesh – complained of extortion by Bhati, who started work as a taxi-driver and later became an extortionist.

“Bhati came to us about 15 days back and asked us to shell out Rs.1,000. We refused. On Wednesday night at about 10.15 p.m. he set the shop on fire,” said Vivek Singhal, owner of ‘Computer Care’, a shop situated at Shiva Tower on GT Road here.

“All traders of the market are affected. He threatens us with dire consequences if we do not give the money on time. Business in the market is suffering because of this. We had recently made a representation to the police but no action was taken,” said Arun Kakkar, president Computer Association of Ghaziabad.

A case of extortion has been registered at Kotwali police station, after a group of traders protested against him.

Bhati, a native of Dadri, is absconding. “His hideouts are being checked and his associates are being questioned,” said Bhushan.

Market traders claimed that the extortion is to such an extent that the owner of the building does not even turn up to collect rent from the tenants.