SRINAGAR: Scores of street vendors protested on Monday against the restrictions on setting stalls on the roadsides around the city centre.
The vendors gathered at Lal Chowk and held a protest demonstration against the government and police.
To support the vendors’ cause, the shopkeepers around Lal Chowk observed a token shutdown lasting a few hours in the morning.
As the number of protesters increased, the protest intensified, resulting in a traffic disruption.
The protesters accused the chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, of giving residents of Srinagar a step-motherly treatment. They said that the street vendors at Anantnag, Bijbehara, and many other areas of south Kashmir were allowed to operate freely while the ones in Srinagar were being victimised. “We want to set stalls on the streets of Srinagar as we always do ahead of Eid, because festival is the time when we can make good money. If the government doesn’t allow us to do business here, how can we earn for our families?” a group of protesters asked.
“We have accepted the decision of the government to shift our stalls to the KMD bus yard, but we shall be allowed to allowed operate like before ahead of Eid. The reason is that not many customers come to the yard for shopping,” they said. The protesters said they were in financial crisis due to their relocation. “Yesterday, we appealed to the government through media that we should be allowed to set our stalls for three days ahead of Eid. But this morning, we were surprised to see police cane charge us when we tried to set the stalls,” Abid Khan, a street vendor, said.
He said many protesting vendors were injured in police action.
One Muneer Ahmad Langoo, who was also injured, was shifted to SMHS from where the doctors referred him to the Bones and Joints Hospital.
“We suffered massive damage in floods and lost almost everything in, but no one is paying heed to our miseries,” he said. Another protester, Waseem Jan, added: “We are educated, unemployed youth. We have no other alternative for earning. Either government should allow us or should frame an employment policy.”
Jhelum market wholesale dealers also asked the government to allow the vendors set their stalls for three days ahead of Eid.
If the vendors will not be allowed to sell their products, our business will be affected too, they said.
They also demanded implementation of the Street Vendors’ Ac in J&K.