Traders and shopkeepers across several parts of Mumbai took to the streets to protest against the lockdown that has forced them to shut shop from Monday. Downtown Mumbai’s Bhindi Bazaar saw traders in huge numbers gather on the street amid section 144 imposed in city, this to air their grievances against the strict measures imposed by the government forcing them to shut shop.
Members of Traders Association of Borivali suburbs too showed up outside their respective stores with placards in their hands to express their resentment towards the government decision.
Taking the cue from ‘My Family My Responsibility’ campaign of the Maharashtra Government to fight Covid-19, the placards of the Dadar Vyapari Sangh who stood outside their shops and establishments in protest against ‘Break The Chain’ orders read ‘My Family My Responsibility, My Business and Staff Also My Responsibility’. Members of the Dadar Vypari Sangh condemned the government’s decision to impose a lockdown and bring economic activity in the city to a standstill.
The traders resented the strict measures imposed on them in spite of adhering to Covid norms issued by the municipal authority and the government at large from time to time. Sunil Shah, President of Dadar Vypari Sangh, said, “When Hon CM came on Facebook live we thought he could ease restriction but he started talking about how the situation is in other parts of the world. When it came to imposing strict measures only an order was sent, which is also confusing in many parts. We will have to abide by these measures but we strongly condemn it… Traders will remember this during coming elections and all staff working in shops also. The government and the authorities know where the crowding happens…we take all precautions and follow all norms in shops.”
Amid rising corona cases in the city, the area’s popular Dadar Fruits and Vegetable market has been in news for all the wrong reasons, excessive crowding, lack of social distancing during rush hours and unmasked vendors and buyers is a common site even though Mumbai is witnessing a unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases. But The Vyapari Sangh believes authorities are targeting shopkeepers with such measures, instead of taking action of crowding caused by illegal hawkers on the streets and pavements.
Secretary of the Dadar Traders Association also stressed on the lack of clarity with the lockdown order and its disregard for the business community. “Today around 5,000 shopkeepers and staff had come to Dadar to open shops, but then BMC and police came and forced them to shut down. Tell me, are all these people uneducated, these notification issued for lockdown are so confusing. We have been surviving for over a year by adhering to Covid norms, we are equally concerned about our health and that of our customers, but by taking such steps you are just taking the traders community for granted. We have paid salaries to staff during the lockdown even if it meant to pay from our pockets,” he said.
Some from the aggrieved traders’ body believe the weekend lockdown was just a farce. Actually the government has imposed a full lockdown causing maximum damage to traders across the board. Meanwhile, the traders’ union in Maharashtra is holding a meeting with other unions across the cities to decide on their future course of action.