Vendors on Road After Cops Clear City Centre from ‘Roadblock’

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SRINAGAR: Hundreds of pushcart vendors Tuesday assembled in Jehangir Chowk protesting government’s decision to ban them from installing pushcarts and kiosks in Srinagar city.They have been protesting for the past three days.

The vendors have not been working for the past 17 days after the police stopped them from carrying out business in Lal Chowk, Jehangir Chowk and Batamaloo areas of summer capital. Since they are not earning their livelihood due to ban, the vendors claim that they are feeling hard to make their ends meet.

“Being vendors with meagre income, we spend what we earn,” Hilal Ahmad, a protestor said.

Father of a single, Jahangir Ahmad, said his daughter has a neurological disorder and her medical bills every month sum up around Rs 4,000 to 5,000/-. He said that he is finding it hard to pay the bills now.

Hilal Ahmad, 32, father of three, said that he has not paid school dues of his wards for the past two months.

“Non-locals are welcomed by authorities to work here and we are banned,” the protestor alleged, “it is ironic.”

President ‘All Srinagar Footpath Vendors Union’ Gh Ahmad Zargar told Kashmir Life that earlier the authorities would stop them from working at the time of Darbar move. “The ban would last for a week and we would resume our businesses thereafter,” he said, “but this time there is a blanket ban and we have not worked for last over two weeks.”

“We had high hopes from Ms Mehbooba Mufti, our CM, as she has promised alleviation of poverty,” the president said, “Instead of eradicating poverty, she is eradicating poor.”

An arrangement for 500 vendors had been made in Makkah Market in SRTC Yard opposite Biscoe School in Lal Chowk but the union finds it insufficient “citing how space for 500 beds can compensate thousands of vendors”. Srinagar Municipal Corporation has said that around 3000 vendors are registered with it.

After being banned from installing their carts and kiosks, J&K Government has promised to relocate their businesses to three places but so far, only one site has been identified and utilised. But vendors have not used it yet.

The protestors alleged, “the so-called public representatives – J&K government has not even come to see us since we started our protests.”

The ban on vendors to carry out their businesses on city road sides has, however, eased pedestrian and traffic movement in summer capital. From TRC in South to Qamarwari West, people have sighed relief in using the roads across city which otherwise witnesses intense traffic jams. But the question remains, when shall the vendors be rehabilitated?

 

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