Nagpur: Surprise! Surprise! In what could be mentioned as sheer surprise for city people who go to Sitabuldi main market area for shopping on Sunday, all the hawkers selling cheap-clothing, accessories, foot-wear etc were removed by the Anti-Encroachment Squad of Nagpur Municipal Corporation on March 19, 2016.
Thanks to the Nagpur Municipal Commissioner who undertook the encroachment removal drive on March 19, 2016 who implemented the orders of the High Court of removing all hawkers from Sitabuldi Market. Suddenly, the Sitabuldi Main Road which is usually crowded on Sundays with vendors selling cheap cloth, footwear, accessories etc with accompanied shouting of Lot Sale… etc. appeared wide and deserted since all the hawkers were absent from the street on Sunday March 20,2016. A strong presence of officials of police and Municipal Corporation were seen sitting on the side walks while the hawkers were seen begging.
It could be mentioned here that top Police Officials and Nagpur Municipal Corporation discussed in a meeting held on March 18, 2016 about the enforcement of directives of the High Court. The hawkers were informed in advance about the drive. Assuming a strong resistance to the hawkers removal drive, a large posse of cops was pressed into service at Sitabuldi Main Road. Other crowd and riot control squad with their Police Van ‘Vajra’, used for controlling unruly mob was also brought to the spot. Officials from NMC Dhantoli Zone, two teams of Central Anti-Encroachment Squad, reached the spot along with earth movers (JCBs) and four trucks to carry away seized goods started the drive. The officials of NMC Anti-Encroachment Squad were asked to continue the drive on Sunday the March 20, 2016 too. Following the order of the court, the hawkers will not be allowed to return to Sitabuldi, informed officials.
MLC Prakash Gajbiye leads Bhik Mango Andolan
Considering the plight of ousted hawkers, MLC Prakash Gajbiye had organized a Bhik Mango Andolan at Variety Square near Mahatma Gandhi Statue on March 20, 2016. As many as 500 hawkers
While speaking to Nagpur Today, MLC Prakash Gajbhiye said that the High Court had recently given a directive to clean the hawkers from the Sitabuldi Main Road. However, they had also given a directive to the Civic Administration to provide shelter and land to the ousted hawkers. Prakash Gajbhiye added that neither the State Government nor the Nagpur Municipal Corporation have any Hawkers’ Policy.
He claimed that they met the Municipal Commissioner and submitted a memorandum to relocate the ousted hawkers. He added that the NMC authorities have decided to relocate them to Fule Market area, however, he claimed that what will happen to the existing vendors and hawkers. He said that there are nearly 40,000 hawkers from all over the city who will be ousted from the existing places if these drives continue.
In order to press his demands to relocate the ousted hawkers and to bring attention of the authorities, all the hawkers led by MLC Prakash Gajbhiye had undertaken the Bhik Mango Andolan.MLC Prakash Gajbhiye himself also begged from the cops and other road users of variety Square.
Mixed reactions to the removal of hawkers
While speaking to Nagpur Today, Lata Gedam, a house wife living in Mankapur Area claimed that she comes almost every Sunday to shop from Sitabuldi Main Market. Espeially on Sunday, there are many hawkers who sell clothing, tapestry, footwear, etc at cheap rate which otherwise is very costly if purchased from shops and showrooms.
While speaking to Nagpur Today, Ramesh Kannade a Sales Executive said that now that the road has been cleaned of hawkers, it will take less time to traverse to LohaPul otherwise, on other Sundays, it will take nothing less that half an hour with hawkers and the customers crowding the road.
While speaking to Nagpur Today, One of the owners of a showroom on Sitabuldi Main Road (on condition of anonymity) said that this was their demand for a very long time. However, how long will this last is what one should wait and see.