Traders protest sealing drive at Gaffar market

Dissenting shopkeepers downed shutters, claiming they were not given any official notification by MCD

Business dropped to a new low in the city's 59-year-old Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh, as the government authorities kicked off a demolition-cum-sealing drive on Tuesday, shutting down the area's hotspots. The entire Karol Bagh market then closed shutters protesting the government's move. 

Lock on: Protest against MCD's sealing drive in Gaffar Market area. File Pic

The move was to bring down unauthorised constructions and remove encroachments to decongest the area. According to the area's traders, no official notification was given by the authorities. They only issued a verbal warning and the next day, ransacked the shops on the first floors without prior warning, claimed traders.

The Anna way!
The traders have now gone the Anna way and have planned to organise a candlelight march in the area every evening to protest against the move. "The authorities are treating us in a partial manner and we are not going to tolerate this behaviour. Ever since this market came into being, we have been running our shops and do not deserve this. In the beginning, we were allotted 30 yards to build our shops but with a limit of 15 metre not to be exceeded. Now the authorities are reasoning that the shops are exceeding the limit. The argument is vague," said Karol Bagh Traders Federation president Subhash Chadha, who owns a silver jewellery shop.

What are the rules?
"Since the constructions were completed after the permission of the authorities back then, and there was no clear demarcation of the property, it is useless to argue with us now. They instructed all owners to level their shops ranging from ground floor to upper levels by removing all sorts of encroachments and gave us a 13-day deadline. Soon they barricaded the roads and sealed the first floor shops in a flurry.

Hearing of the case is due in the court and we have made it a point to put our woes clearly before the judiciary so that we do not have to suffer any more harassment at the hands of the authorities," said Ramesh Mahajan, who owns a watch showroom.

The market awaits a new lease of life as the drive is being protested and the entire area is flanked by banners and hoardings saying, "If you can't give jobs, don't take them".

'No further action till final plan'
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on the second day sealed seven guest houses and around 40 shops constructed illegally in central Delhi's Gaffar Market. MCD Leader of House Subhash Arya demanded that the sealing action undertaken by the civic body should be immediately stopped till the development plan of the area is not given final shape.

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