Despite ban, toy gun & firecracker bazaar remains bullish
KABUL (Pajhwok): The plastic toy gun and firecracker bazaar in Kabul remains bullish despite an official ban on their sale and use, shopkeepers say.
Dozens of children are wounded every Eid by plastic toy weapons and firecrackers, health experts claim, warning that the use of such things makes children aggressive.
For this reason, the Ministry of Interior recently announced a ban on the sale, purchase and use of toy weapons and firecrackers. It also promised collecting such items from the market.
In coordination with the Ministry of Commerce and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the MoI plans banning the import and sale of these items by Eidul Adha.
Now that the festival is only days away, toy guns, pistols and firecrackers continue to be on sale in different parts of the capital city, as well as other provinces, in violation of the ban.
The Bailer Street bazaar is awash with such items, which are kept away from police gaze. A Pajhwok Afghan News reporter, posing as a customer, saw these items at a number of shops.
After being shown a variety of artificial weapons, this scribe revealed his actual identity. The shopkeepers, unable to deny what they were selling, agreed to give brief interviews.
One of the shopkeepers, Rahimullah, acknowledged the sale of toy guns and fireworks at all shops in the area. They are available for retail and wholesale.
He said: “Look, my brother! All shops are selling plastic guns and pistols, because children like them so much. They are in high demand.”
Despite the clandestine nature of the business, Rahimullah added, the toy weapons were supplied from Kabul to other provinces.
Asked why they were selling these items in violation of the MoI instructions, he replied they were in high demand, particularly ahead of the Eid festival.
The sales are playing an important role in earning them bread and butter, according to the shopkeeper, who claimed: “The government isn’t sincere in preventing such sales.
“If the authorities are really interested in the well-being and protection of children, they should crack down on the imports of toy weapons, not on ordinary vendors,” he remarked.
Another shopkeeper in the Mirwais Maidan area of Kabul, Ghausuddin, said he was selling the items to meet customer demands.
“Whoever comes here asks for pyrotechnics and plastic weapons, which we keep in shops and warehouses for our profit.
“Either we get away with these sales or are caught is left to destiny,” he continued, asking the government to outlaw such imports.
Ministry of Commerce and Industry spokesman Mustafar Quqandi said the toys were smuggled. He warned any businessman found involved in the business would have his licence cancelled.
Interior Ministry spokesman Siddique Siddiqui claimed police had collected a large amount of such toys from the market and destroyed them.
About the presence of toy guns in the market, he said: “Some shopkeepers are defiant; they do not go by government laws. These toy weapons are illegal and damage our culture.”
Regarding punishment to importers and sellers, he said: “There are no clear provisions in the relevant law. But police reserve the right to punish them in any way they want, including fines or imprisonment.”
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