Government behaving like a chameleon; need a place where people frequent, say vendors
Muheet ul Islam
srinagar: Vendors in Srinagar continue to occupy the streets in Lal-Chowk and adjourning business areas even after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court asked state authorities to remove them from roadsides and pavements to ensure smooth movement of the traffic.
The vendors, however, allege that the government has been exploiting and using them according to the situation in Kashmir.
“The High Court order is a matter of concern for us. I want to tell High Court that we opened shop after authorities told us to do it during the peak of 2016 uprising,” one of the vendors at Residency Road told Kashmir Reader. He wished anonymity.
“Police and other government officers placed our bunks in the centre of the roads to show that everything was normal in the city. During the deal in curfews, everyone witnessed huge rush in an around Lal-Chow but no one blamed us for creating traffic mess. How can they say it now? We have moved to the side of the road or close to pavement.”
Another vendor said that government authorities approached the presidents of various street vendor unions in 2016 and promised them that ‘no one will relocate them (vendors) even after situation improves’. “They provided us security those days, but when situation has improved, the government is behaving like a chameleon,” he said.
Last year, prior to Burhan Wani’s killing that triggered an uprising, vendors were relocated to KMD bus stand and car-parking near Khalisa High School. However, vendors complained that they did not earn enough to be able to feed their families.
Vice-President of Footpath Association of Amira Kadal, Farooq Ahmad Guru, said that their businesses run at the place where rush of people is witnessed. He says, “One out of hundreds of pedestrians fiddle with our goods. If they like our products, then only do they show their interest in purchasing.”
None of the vendors relocated to different places earned more than 100 rupees a day. Why would people come to us? In our business, we have to reach people.”
Fayaz Ahmad, former President of Gousia Footpath Union said, “We are not against relocation from Hari Singh High Street to some other place, but we want the government to shift us to a place where large numbers of people visit frequently.”
Farooq believes that street vendors do not create bottlenecks in traffic, and it is illegal car parking and pushcarts that are responsible for the traffic mess.
“Look where we have placed our charpai. They are close to the pavement. Look at these illegally parked cars and pushcarts all along the residency road. Who is in the middle of the roads – vendors or illegally parked cars and pushcarts?”
Tanveer Ahmad Sheikh, a vendor from Batamaloo, said that government promised shops to some of the vendors next to a petrol station near vegetable madi in Batamaloo. “Few of us have completed all the formalities from the submission of documents to money, but SMC has failed to provide us any space so far,” he said.
Sheikh says that he doesn’t want a shop. “For what purpose I need a shop? What shall I keep in it? A shop requires goods worth lakhs of rupees but I have no money. I earn 300-400 a day, and that is allI have.”