Police intervenes to disperse the skirmish

Tension prevailed for a while in the Central Market area on Saturday following heated exchange of words between the traders functioning within Central Market building and vendors who have been evicted from the street near the building. The police caned the warring factions.

Traders operating inside the Central Market staged a protest in reaction to the agitation by vendors on Friday. The traders were against the way street vendors were doing their business by blocking the way leading to the complex and also eating away space meant for parking vehicles besides allegedly affecting their business.

As traders’ representatives highlighted their problems at a public meeting near the complex, street vendors, who were supported by Democratic Youth Federation of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists shouted slogans. This led to a heated exchange of words between the two groups. The police had to intervene and arrested a few DYFI and CPI (M) activists, who were released later on bail.

The traders said they had been severely affected by the business carried out by street vendors. “We have been doing trade inside the market for several years by paying rent to the Corporation. Per day we incur an expense of Rs. 2,000. Our business has drastically come down in the last two years,” said M.J. Bashir, who has been selling fruits inside the market for more three decades.

The traders said the street vendors had increased in number and were trading on space meant for parking vehicles. “Customers find it hard to park their four-wheelers and they are going to markets in Kankanady and Urva,” said Abdul Hameed. “We were generous to allow a few to do their business on the road a few years ago. But now their numbers have increased. They are violating the rule that prohibits any trade in 200 metres around a market place,” said another trader. “They cannot carryout business at our cost. The government has to make proper arrangements for street vendors,” Mr. Bashir said. Street vendors have not been allowed to sell their wares around the Central Market complex for the last six days. Only a few such as T.V. Gangadhar were seen on the road. “We fear the rebuke of the traders. The police are also supporting them. We have been denied our means of livelihood,” said Mr. Gangadhar, who was selling green vegetables at a corner of the road.

Among the few other street vendors seen were Kamalamma Lamani, a native of Karwar, who was seen selling oranges and few green vegetables opposite a jewellery store outside the Central Market complex. “I am doing this without causing any obstruction to the jewellery shop. The material I have brought is limited and serves my need,” Ms. Lamani said. She swept 100 metres of the pavement she was sitting on where she displayed her wares.

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