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Street Vendors’ Strike Call Evokes Tepid Response

Agitating women vendors stopping an autho-rickshaw and vegetables scattered by the protestors. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, May 7: The 48-hour general strike called by women street vendors evoked mixed response on the first day today as strike sup-porters managed to disrupt vehicular movement while many shops in the main commercial area carried out business as usual even though the trading volume was evidently below average.

Launching crackdown against the strike supporters, personnel of Imphal West district police rounded out seven women agitators in the morning but were released on bail bond of Rs 1000 each after they were produced before the court of Chief judicial Magistrate, Imphal.

While strike supporters gathered at some strategic locations to ensure their agitation call had the desired impact police personnel were deployed in adequate strength at various points in the market areas to neutralize the agitation.

Similar security arrangements were also taken up at Kwakeithel and other market sites in the outskirts of both the capital districts.

Most educational institutions remained open while inter-district passenger carriers operated as usual thereby indicating the general strike had little impact on the day to day life of the citizens.

Enforcing their general strike call to protest arrest of colleagues, who demonstrated against the Government’s recent decision to evict street vendors from the Khwairamband Keithel area, women street vendors today resorted to road blockades at various points of the capital city.

Even though suspected JAC volunteers managed to stop vehicular movement at different locations, particularly in Khwairamband Keithel area since early morning, arrival of security personnel foiled the protestors’ attempt to prolong the agitation.

Group of women were also spotted stopping traffic at Singjamei areas in the early hours.

As the general strike enforcers ascended on vehicles coming along the Imphal-Moreh route and started to fling cast away vegetable loads a mild confrontation ensued, which however did not go out of control as the protestors left the scene.

Speaking to The Sangai Express an agitating woman street vendor deplored the State Government‘s crackdown rather than find chalk out an alternative arrangement to address genuine appeal of the evicted women vendors.

Strongly condemning the police crackdown  against a group of women street vendors, who were on the way to highlight  their plight to the Governor and subsequent detention of some of the protestors in jail, she asserted that demand of the street vendors is to provide them a suitable place to earn their livelihood.

Comprehending that family members of those street vendors, who were sent to jail might be enduring mental trauma as well as physical inconveniences as their bread winners are languishing in prison, the strike enforcer described the Government’s attitude as highly deplorable and irresponsible.

Proposing that empty spaces in the three newly inaugurated market complexes at Khwairamband Keithel could be provided to the street vendors, she also lambasted the State authorities for betraying the State womenfolk as assurances to allocate trading plots at the Temporary Market shed has not been translated into action till date.

With the open space in the Temporary market shed converted to a two-wheeler parking area the arrangement is being capitalized by unscrupulous security personnel to harass innocent public for earning extra income, she alleged.

Meanwhile, two out of four women street vendors, who were detained by City police during protest near the Raj Bhavan yesterday, have been released by a Court after furnishing PR bond of Rs 1000 each.

The other two refused to submit to the legal obligation and have been consequently sent to judicial remand for a 15-day period.

The two released on bail today have been identified as Y Pramo w/o Hajari of Thoubal Kiyam Siphai and Abe Begum w/o Md Moirang of Top Kshetri Awang Leikai, while identities of those sent to jail are said to be Paonam Sanatombi w/o Deben of Tera Loukrakpam Leikai and Konthoujam Ibemcha w/o Nabachandra of Haorang Sabal.

Speaking to newspersons after coming out of the court complex, the latter duo asserted they would sustain the agitation even in prison.

With these two, the total number of women street vendors currently lodged in jail has risen to 27. The street vendors had been protesting the State Government’s decision to shift them to the open space at Lamphel Shopping Complex area. Their demands include allotment of empty plots at the top floor of the three market complexes at Khwairamband Keithel as well as at the temporary market shed.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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