Delhi sealing protests: Traders go on strike, hold rally at Ramlila Maidan

Around 7 lakh traders and over 3,000 shops in Delhi have decided to down shutters on Wednesday to protest the ongoing sealing of commercial establishments in Delhi. Besides 20 industrial areas, 20,000 transporters have also joined the shutdown call.

The strike has the backing of several traders’ bodies, including the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Chamber of Trade Industries (CTI) and Vyapari and Workers Association.
The initial decision to hold separate rallies across Delhi-NCR was subsequently replaced by the move to organise a protest march to Ramlila Maidan. The traders associations will jointly move a motion to place their demands before the government. The gathering will comprise 100,000 shopkeepers, their employees as well as their family members, CAIT members said.

“We have been demanding that the Delhi government should pass a Bill in the Assembly session for an embargo on sealing and also intimate the Centre for its approval. Our members and many other traders have not sent their children to school or colleges as a mark of protest. All transport and logistics companies will be off the roads as they have extended their support to our rally,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.

CAIT and  CTI represent over 3,500 trader organisations in Delhi-NCR. Markets across Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar, Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar and Uttam Nagar are expected to be worst affected. Traffic snarls and chaos are expected across the city, especially during the day.

Matter of concern
A Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee has ordered the current sealing drive in Delhi against business establishments operating on residential properties for commercial purposes. The drive was implemented by the three BJP-ruled municipal corporations.
Traders bodies allege that the Monitoring Committee has adopted strict measures while sealing the shops and business establishments. Traders have also been denied the benefit of fundamental provisions of the MCD Act,1957.
No show-cause notice nor any chance to place defence was given to traders, union leaders said. Traders had gone on a 48-hour strike in February against the municipal corporations’ move.

Political tussle
The traders’ associations have accused the AAP government in Delhi for its inaction and passive moves. When CM Arvind Kejriwal tried to woo the traders by announcing a hunger strike in their support, CAIT said “Mr Kejriwal was shedding crocodile tears”.
On the other hand, the city BJP unit is trying to calm down the traders and have assured that the Delhi Development Authority will approve changes to the national capital’s master plan’ at the earliestbusinesstoday