The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The protest by New Market traders

I am slightly disturbed by the Times of India report published today about the three-day shutdown by the shopkeepers of New Market starting tomorrow, which is for the first time in the history of the 141-year old market. Showing solidarity, joining them will be Sree Ram Arcade, Firpo’s and Treasure Island and the shopkeepers at Lindsay Street, Bertram Street and Humayun Place among others. So the area area around New Market during the strike will be a sight hitherto unseen and unthinkable. The increasing hawker menace in the area over the past few years, overlooked by administration indeed is the sole reason. This is inconveniencing shoppers and shopkeepers alike to no end.

Hawkers have always been around New Market, but their dominance has taken scary proportions in the last few years. And the traders are being forced to do the historic strike and their repeated calls to administration didn't yield any result.

My question is, how did KMC let the matter get completely out of hand gradually? So much so that New Market is going to be creating history for the wrong reason! It is bringing shock to us and shame to KMC, which is getting ready for election in little more than a month’s time! Is the honourable mayor not realizing that, or he is allowed to do little before the state level hawkers’ conference takes place on 13th March and advised rather to concentrate on drawing up strategy to win the poll which will see him re-elected?

What can we expect in the conference? Will the hawkers’ get the virtual immunity like the taxi drivers got a few days back (Penalization with small money for refusing passengers)? Am so much eager to know. Chances of such a populist announcement is pretty much there as hawkers wouldn’t have been able to practically rule the city’s favourite shopping area had there not been political backing of the ruling party.