Musclemen rule the roost at APMC yard

Traders are forced to put up with their bullying

Musclemen rule the roost at APMC yard

The traders at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) yard in Yeshwantpur are a worried lot.

For they have to put up with musclemen dictating the terms of trade, deal with security concerns of food produce stored in the yard, manage chaotic traffic and also tackle other law and order problems that arise in the yard every day.

They are trying their best to bring the matter to the notice of the police and the administration for appropriate action.

The 97 acres of the APMC yard, on an average hosts as many as 3,000 trucks which ferry tonnes of foodgrains, fruits and vegetables to the City, every day.

Apart from the 6,000 registered merchants, there are a total of 50,000 employees on the yard, working as daily wage labourers, coolies, accountants, support staff and private security. According to Bharath Kumar R Shah, Chairman of Internal Trade Committee, APMC, “It is one of the busiest commercial hubs in the State that records a financial transaction worth several crores every day.

But the situation at the yard at present is such that a trader will have to think twice before setting his foot along with his cash bag. There are instances where cash handlers have been assaulted and robbed. Policemen are barely in sight to seek help,” he added.

Theft of foodgrains

The APMC yard area comes under two police jurisdictions - the Mahalakshmi Layout and the RMC yard police stations. The area also has a separate traffic police station. In spite of a comparatively larger police presence in the area, traders continue to claim losses incurred due to theft of foodgrains from trucks and shops. They allege that police take no action, apart from registering the complaints.

One of the major problems at the APMC yard was providing security for foodgrains stored in the trucks during night hours. The traders have given it up as an impossible task. Sources say there are organised gangs active in the yard that are involved in attention diversion, assault, robbery and even dacoity. Last year alone, 250 such cases were booked at the RMC yard police station, said police sources. However, they admit that there has been very little success in preventing such crimes in the area.

A few vendors also allege that when the complaint is registered with the police, they simply pick innocent employees of the yard and subject them to physical assault and humiliation, in the name of interrogation. “Once out, the employees feel so humiliated that they do not report for duty and the vendor faces staff shortage,” said Mahesh S, a vendor at the APMC yard.

Refuting the traders’ allegations, the jurisdictional police officials claim that they have taken appropriate measures to avoid untoward incidents.

“The APMC yard is visited by a floating population that comprises people from diverse classes and outsiders. Hence, conventional policing will not work. Hence we have mapped sensitive areas and have deployed staff in plain clothes to collect intelligence, including four sub-inspectors. Recently, when ‘musclemen’ began fleecing traders in a particular area, our officers swiftly busted the gang and apprehended its members,” a sub-inspector attached to the Crime Division of the RMC yard police station, said.

Traders’ suggestions

The traders have now come forward to sponsor funds to tighten security at the yard. A senior merchant opined that CCTVs should be installed at prominent places, establish traffic junctions within the yard and streamline traffic. The merchants are also looking at issuing identity cards to all the labourers and employees, including the merchants at the yard, for better security. Recently, a delegation of merchants met the City Police Commissioner, Raghavendra Auradkar, in this regard.

Auradkar told Deccan Herald: “The recent delegation from APMC yard has stressed on organising monthly meetings at the jurisdictional police station to improve the law and order situation in the yard, along with a slew of other measures. We will soon have a meeting after the elections, to address their concerns and put the matter to rest.”

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