Grouping within TTP a bane for businessmen

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Ideological Radicalization, TTP, FATAISLAMABAD: The recent grouping in the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)may help the government and security forces to deal with the militants but it has created more trouble for businessmen in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

In the recent past, the businessmen had paid extortions to the TTP but a few days later they again received calls for payment of more money, officials in the police said.

The second calls, they added, came even though middlemen of the militants had given assurances that the businessmen would not be threatened.

The officials said the TTP groups worked under Shehryar Mehsud and Khan Said alias Sajna.

The differences among them cropped up in the run-up to the selection of the successor toHakimullah Mehsud who was killed in a US drone attack last year.

In November 2013, Shehryar Mehsud was picked as the interim head of the TTP.

However, as groups within the TTP opposed him, he could not be made the permanent head. Similarly, Sajna was also selected as the successor to Hakimullah but was later rejected by commanders of different groups.

The subsequent selection of Mullah Fazlullah from Swat as the TTP head was not welcomed by Hakimullah Mehsud’s followers in North Waziristan.

Last month, both the groups attacked each other in which over 20 militants were killed.

An official of the capital police said now the TTP groups were separately approaching businessmen to pay them extortion.

A few days back, he added, the owner of a food outlet in the city received a telephone call demanding extortion equal to the amount he had already paid.

The businessman told the police that he approached the middleman operating from the capital city as he had assured him that no one would harm him after he made the payment.

However, when the businessman told the middleman about the call after the payment of extortion, the latter sought time to probe the matter.

A police officer in Rawalpindi confirmed that some businessmen from the tribal areas, who operated transport business in the city, had also received extortion calls from the TTP.

“They were asked to pay the same amount as they had already paid to their rival group,” he added.

Moreover, the capital police officer added that a group of Taliban in Kunar province of Afghanistan had also demanded extortions from traders of Sabzi Mandi.

A few days ago, the group called a trader who was a close aide of a former prime minister and demanded Rs200 million.

Over his refusal, they sent him a shroud, the officer said, adding that during investigation it was revealed that the calls had been made from Afghanistan, Fata and different parts of KP.

The tracking of the numbers, however, showed that the calls were made from Sabzi Mandi where the extortionists had set up a PCO and were calling from there.

Some members of the group were arrested and sent on judicial remand, the officer added.

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