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Caterers Protest Restriction On Trade

IMPHAL, Jan 12: Protesting the imposition of restriction on selling rice and other snacks after being cooked inside the newly inaugural Ima Keithel building, which was formally known as Purana Bazar, women caterers staged a Wakat Meepham in front of the market today.

Of the three market sheds of Khwairamband Keithel, women have been selling cooked meals and other snacks like rice, vegetables, tea, roti, etc for the last many years in Ima Keithel. They also serve the purpose of other women vendors in the three market sheds who come from far flung areas without having their morning meal.

These women caterers have been carrying out their trade on the basis of the licenses issued by the Imphal Municipality. But after shifting all the women vendors to the newly constructed market sheds, restriction has been imposed on the women hoteliers to carry on with their normal trade of cooking and selling rice and other snacks inside the market shed.

Despite the restriction, some women hoteliers who have been demanding their proper plots reportedly lit their cooking place and started cooking inside the market shed. Accordingly, police seized 10 Meiphus and two rice cookers and arrested four women hoteliers in this connection.

Participating in the Wakat Meepham, one Basanti, who hails from Yairipok Changamdabi said, ‘˜I have been running a hotel serving rice and other eatables inside the market for the last 19 years and managing my family with the income generated from the hotel. In fact, most of the women vendors who come to the market to eke out their daily livelihood through sale of vegetables with money borrowed from others have been taking meals from such hotels. One woman vendors can eat up to her heart’s content by paying Rs 30 in such hotels”.

Another woman hotelier, Premila said, ‘˜’˜we are looking after the needs of our families and educating our children from the income earned from running the hotels. Restriction on running the hotels inside the market shed is like telling us to die. Such discriminatory policy of the Government is unacceptable”.

She went on to say that women vendors in Khwairamband Bazar have been depending on each other for survival and are not engaged in selling illegal items like drugs.

‘˜’˜If the Chief Minister constructs a new house, he is going to stop cooking inside the house just because it would make the house dirty”, she questioned.

‘˜’˜Restriction on running hotels inside the market has caused lot of problems to many women hoteliers who can’t even afford to buy Ngari, if they go to the market for a day. We have taken up this profession not just like that it is the profession that has been handed down from our mothers and grandmothers”, Premila pointed out. It is said that there are around 78 women hoteliers engaged in the business in Ima Keithel. The protestors have also decried the conduct of the police have used force to disperse from continuing with their Wakat Meepham today.

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