Most shops and commercial establishments in the city, including showrooms and restaurants, preferred to keep their shutters down during yesterday’s Bharat Bandh. Fearing violence and loss of property, even small-scale eateries remained shut for most part of the day.
But the few stores that did keep their doors open had to deal with violence, courtesy the bandh supporters. Violent mobs barged into establishments that had opened in the morning and forced them to shut down. A café at Parel that chose to stay open for business was vandalised and was forced to shut down.
“It was surprising that many shops chose to remain shut even though we hadn’t declared any closure. Many preferred to stay indoors, but I opened my shop as usual at 10 am. However, there weren’t any customers and we decided to pull down our shutters at 1 pm. We have to fight against the rise in petrol prices, as it will pinch every citizen,” said Viren Shah, owner of Roopam stores, who is also the president of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA).
“Most owners took an individual decision, as the association did not take a stand whether establishments should remain shut or not. Fearing that supporters of the bandh would indulge in violence, many eateries preferred to remain shut. “Though we have incurred losses, it was important for us that we should not suffer any more loss if the restaurants were to be vandalised,” said a restaurant owner from Ghatkopar.
A similar pattern was observed in malls where stores were open, but very low footfalls were witnessed.
“Many of our staff too did not turn up yesterday. We faced losses, but we are happy that it was not a weekend, else it would have caused heavy losses,” said Suraj Chirodia, manager at a leading store at a Lower Parel mall.