CM Punjab to crack down on sale of free Laptops

LAHORE: The Punjab government has ordered different market unions to take concrete measures to stop the sale of laptops in open markets by the beneficiary students of Punjab chief minister’s Youth Initiative program.

It was earlier reported that the free laptops given to students as part of the youth program by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were being sold online as well as at Hafeez Centre in Lahore.

As a step to control the act, the Lahore police have been deployed in the markets known for the resale of free laptops. Hafeez Center, the biggest market for laptops in Lahore is also being monitored by the police.

Shopkeepers said that the police often follow the person who enters the market with a laptop of any brand.

A shopkeeper at Hafeez Center, dealing with laptop accessories, told The Express Tribune that he had been strictly told by the market president not to buy any laptop of the scheme in any case, and anyone found doing so would be dealt strictly with by the union and even an FIR might be registered against the shopkeeper.

“Since the intimation, no one is ready to purchase those laptops. However, students come here regularly for Windows installation as the laptops are given with Linux based operating system by default, which is not common here and no one knows how to operate the system with Linux,” he said.

He admitted that few free laptops were being purchased by different shopkeepers but the exchange happened in the very initial days and no one is ready to purchase the laptop now.

Police teams, he said, are visiting the market regularly to find any student or shopkeeper involved in the act. This has added fear and a wave of frustration among the shopkeepers as police teams often interrogate even if any student comes to reinstall Windows in their laptops, he said.

President of Hafeez Center Shahid Bhatti however showed his ignorance of any such order issued by the Punjab government or any other department. He said that out of the 140 shops in Hafeez center that deal in laptops, no one was reported to be involved in such activity.

He further said that several students visit the center daily to install Windows operating system and they often ask for the price of the laptop, but not a single laptop provided by the Punjab government has been purchased till date.

Punjab government spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rasheed told The Express Tribune, “We have heard such news regarding the resale of laptops in different markets, however we haven’t receive any complaint through our own sources.”

Rasheed said he believes that students will never sell their laptop which was given to them in their honour.

“We also condemn such news in which this perception is being imaged that the Punjab government is trying to prove the students as thieves. The students have signed an affidavit of not selling the laptops in the open market, and we believe they will fulfill the commitment,” he added.

Rasheed, however, said that despite all such assurances, anyone who is found selling or purchasing the laptop of the scheme anywhere will be preceded in accordance with the law.

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