PESHAWAR: Haji Mohammad Haleem Jan, a senior trader leader of the provincial capital, washis shop at Qissa Khawni Bazaar here on Tuesday.
Police and eyewitnesses told this scribe that the incident took place at around 12 noon when a man opened firing on the 77-year-old trader in his shop at the crowded market. The assailant managed to escape, they added.
They said that the trader leader, who received at least five bullet injuries, was rushed to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital, however, he succumbed to his wounds while being shifted to the hospital.
The incident sparked a protest as traders at various bazaars of the city put their shutters down and held a demonstration at Qissa Khawni Bazaar.
Almost all major bazaars of the city were closed after the incident and various organisations of traders announced to mourn for three days the killing of their septuagenarian leader. The traders also demanded of the authorities to sack provincial police chief and Peshawar police chief for their failure to provide security to them.
Official says Haji Haleem Jan received threats from extortionists in the past
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also closed down following the killing and announced three-day mourning.
An official at Khan Raziq police station told Dawn that the lone attacker used a narrow alley connecting Qissa Khawni and Kabari Bazaar to reach Mr Jan’s shop and open firing on him.
He said that the attacker managed to escape through the same way after opening firing on the trader leader. He said that police recovered five empties of 9mm pistol from the scene of occurrence.
The official said that the masked attacker was in his early 20s. Apparently it was an incident of targeted killing as the trader leader had received threats from extortionists, he added.
Javed Ahmed, an eyewitness, also corroborated the police statement and said the lone assailant was on foot. He said that the attacker was apparently a young man, who fired about six shots at the trader leader, who was sitting in his shop situated at the ground floor of Yasir Hotel, also owned by Mr Jan.
Mr Ahmed said that they had heard that some months ago extortionists had demanded over Rs35 million from the deceased.
Mohammad Ahtasham Haleem, the elder son of the deceased and president of Peshawar Chamber of Small Traders and Industry, told Dawn that they were receiving threats from extortionists in the past, but the suspects were arrested. He did not blame anyone directly for the murder of his father.
Mr Haleem said that on July 4 last year a blast took place next to Haleem Banquet Hall, owned by them, however, there were no casualties.
Sheikh Abdur Razaq, president of Qissa Khawni Bazaar Traders, said that the government, which burdened them with new taxes, failed to provide security to them.
Born in 1938, the deceased trader leader is survived by three sons and two daughters. He had also served as president of KPCCI back in 1998. He was currently serving as vice president of Markazai Anjuman Tajaran Pakistan and president of its provincial chapter.
His funeral prayers were offered at Qissa Khawni Bazaar on Tuesday evening that were attended by a large number of people.