TAMIL NADU

Gandhi Market traders go on indefinite strike

TIRUCHI, JULY 24. The feud between the load men and the English vegetables commission agents at the Gandhi Market snowballed into a major row with traders of the market going on an indefinite strike from today.

While the agents downed shutters this morning, traders in the market decided to join them from tonight expressing solidarity with their aggrieved fellow traders.

The prices of English vegetables shot up in the city today, as Gandhi Market is the main vegetable trade centre from which retail traders lift stocks on a day-to-day basis.

The dispute, if unresolved, is expected to lead to a steep rise in the prices of all vegetables in the city over the next few days.

The traders' decision to go on strike follows Thursday's clash between a few of the load men, who load and unload vegetables from trucks, and the agents, after a woman was knocked down by a lorry at the market.

With the commission agents intervening on behalf of the truck driver, a scuffle ensued between the load men and some of the agents. Some employees of the agents were allegedly roughed up in the incident.

Coming as it does after a similar clash between the two groups last month, emotions ran high between the traders and the load men.

Talks held by the Revenue Divisional Officer and the police failed to break the deadlock as traders insisted that they would not use the services of a group of 10 `cantankerous load men,' who, they alleged were causing the trouble.

Meanwhile, the Tiruchi Gandhi Market All Traders Association has called for an indefinite strike from tonight.

All platform and permanent shopkeepers would join the strike, the association leader U.S. Karuppiah, told mediapersons here today.

The association alleged that though there were about 65 load men who were engaged in loading and unloading vegetables for the English vegetable commission agents, 10 frequently created trouble, causing much inconvenience to the public and the traders.

Often they picked up quarrels with the traders and also threatened them, the traders charged. No action had been initiated by the police against a load man who had threatened to kill a trader last month, after his services were terminated by the latter, they added.

The traders should be allowed to carry on business in a secure environment without being forced to use the services of the load men concerned.

The police, the association demanded, should extend protection to the traders.

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