On December 9, Chhaya Jitendra Gaikwad (37), a flower vendor, registered a non-cognisable complaint (copy available with MiD DAY) against alleged goons of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) councillor Ishwar Tayade. The accused allegedly abused and threatened her, saying she either cough up protection money or vacate the market.
“I have been selling flowers here for the last 25 years. There was no problem earlier. Now, Tayade’s men are harassing, torturing, abusing, and molesting us to leave the market or pay hafta to him. I have lodged a complaint with the police,” said Chhaya.
Vendors from Chandivli, Sakinaka – most of them dealing in vegetables – allege that Tayade’s men are demanding Rs 30 or free wares from them every day. They say the goons thrash and molest female vendors, and if they do not accede to their demands, their stalls are removed after complaints are made to the BMC.
The traders claim they have been facing this situation for the past one year. They approached MNS MLA Ram Kadam and Congress minister Naseem Khan, and maintain that no relief is forthcoming. “Tayade’s men who are holding posts in MNS are repeatedly harassing us. They want to throw us out of the market at any cost. He lodges complaints against those who do not comply, with BMC and the police station,” said a trader on condition of anonymity.
One of the vendors, Geeta Gaikwad, contends that last week Tayade’s men snatched her dupatta. She approached Sakinaka police station, but cops allegedly refused to lodge a complaint stating that “dress toh nahin nikala na”.
Shobha D’souza, Dinesh Lati and Sunita Shinde are among 50 other vendors with similar grievances against Tayade. Incidentally, a police constable owns three vegetable stalls in this market.
One of the traders claims that Tayade wants to shift them from Sangharsh Nagar for not voting in his favour.
“We are ashamed that MNS is harassing the Marathi Manoos. These goons are collecting money from outsiders and protecting them. If we oppose then we get abused, thrashed and molested,” said Sunita Shinde.
The other side
“We have received a lot of complaints against the vegetable vendors. They have created terror in the market. They run business as if it’s their monopoly. Some of vendors run three to five stalls. A constable owns three shops. They litter indiscriminately and I want the area clean. I want them to have photo IDs. I want the market to be run on handcarts. The allegation that our men are demanding money is false. Give me their names, and I will remove them from MNS,” Tayade told MiD DAY.
Despite repeated attempts, Samadhan Dhanedhar, senior inspector of Sakinaka police station, could not be contacted