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Police Thwart Street Vendors’ Rally

IMPHAL, Apr 29: A protest rally taken out by street vendors demanding their seats inside Khwairamband Keithel was thwarted by police using mock bombs. Nevertheless, the street vendors staged a sit-in-protest till 3 pm today at the temporary market sheds.

As a large number of street vendors began their protest rally from the western side of Polo Ground, police fired mock bombs and dispersed the protesters.

The mock bombs caused miseries to one Lakhi Devi and Ibeni from Thoubal Kiyam while one Shanti collapsed in the ensuing ruckus.

Denouncing the Cabinet decision of giving space for street vendors at Lamphel Sana Keithel, the street vendors have been demanding their seats in the temporary market sheds and vacant floors of the three Nupi Keithels.

Making fervent appeals not to forfeit their means of livelihood, the women vendors asked the Government not build markets at unsuitable places.

Reminding that the Chief Minister repeatedly stated that the street vendors would be given seats inside the temporary market sheds once the licensed vendors shifted to the newly constructed Nupi Keithels, the street vendors decried the Chief Minister’s failure to keep his words as well as the Cabinet decision to give space to street vendors at Lamphel.

Earlier, the Government developed Lamphel Super Market and Porompat PDA complex as alternative markets but all kinds of business failed at these two places.

Given these experiences, the Cabinet decision was unacceptable to the street vendors.

To address the issue of the ever increasing number of street vendors at the national level, there are already the Urban Street Vendor Policy 2009 and the Model Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vendors) Bill 2009.

It is reported that there are around 15,000 street vendors in Khwairamband Keithel.

But this figure is inflated figure. Street vendors know each other very well and the number of real street vendors is much less than what the Government estimated.

If the Government first identified the real street vendors, arrangements for their seats within Khwairamband Keithel can be made without much difficulty, contended one of the protesters.

Today’s protest demonstration was jointly organized by the Khwairamband Bazar Vendor Nupi Yaipha Lup, Nagamapal Ima Sintha Lup, Khwairamband Ima Keithel Phambishingi Hak Kanba Lup, Ngari Gali Ngari Yonbi Association, Thangal Bazar Muslim Women Group and the Roadside Vendor Welfare Association, Khwairamband Keithel.

Saying that the Cabinet decision was unacceptable, Roadside Vendor Welfare Association president Tama Devi maintained that they would continue their agitation until and unless the Cabinet decision is revoked.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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