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Traders rally their forces following day of protests

A DAY after police action against protesting traders, the city saw no remonstrations or rallies against the local body tax (LBT) yesterday. Posters against the new tax were the only visible mark of discord over the issue in the city.


Markets in South Mumbai wear a deserted look as shopkeepers and retailers locked their stores in protest of LBT in South Mumbai. Pics/Bipin Kokate

On Monday, around 47 people were arrested by the LT Marg police station and some more were arrested by the Azad Maidan police station. All those arrested during the protest were released on a PR bond on the same day with a warning against forming groups and taking out rallies and protests.

“There might be more arrests if they are seen protesting on the roads as it is a matter of Law and order and we cannot leave things to their benefit,” an inspector at LT Marg police station said. “We have granted them bail on PR bonds but we can arrest them on serious charges if needed.”

The government’s decision of introducing LBT has enraged Mumbai’s traders. With almost 80% of Mumbai’s shops closed in Borivli, Malad, Goregaon, Masjid Bunder and Abdul Rehman Street, the traders and shopkeepers do not seem to be in the mood to let up and resume work.

Indefinite bandh
Members of the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) called a meeting yesterday at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the next step. It has been decided to go on an indefinite bandh from today.

“Members of associations of Nagpur, Pune and Kolhapur will join in the protest and take part in the indefinite bandh as well,” said Uday Shah, member of FAM. Places like Kolhapur, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nasik and Thane will also follow suit. Traders and shopkeepers in Mumbai haven’t opened their shops for the past 16 days.

Voices
We never had taxes for books. Now that we have to pay taxes, automa-tically the prices of books will rise. Clearly students will suffer. Earlier, we had a profit margin of 5 per cent on books which will reduce with the new tax. - Sultan Shroff, a bookstore owner in Churchgate

It’s been almost 15 days that we have kept our shops closed. How long are we going to incur huge losses? There is no support from the police or the government. We are very upset with the kind of language being used by the chief minister. This is no way to treat citizens. - Azim Sheikh, another trader

We will pay taxes as we have no choice. However, the government needs to understand that if they want to bring about a change, it has to be gradual. It is not right to instill such tough laws through taxes and expect people to abide by them. - Mohammed B, arms and ammunition dealer

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