New Delhi, 1 February:
The street vendors agitation in protest against ongoing forced eviction of hawkers in Mumbai and growing police atrocities gained momentum with National Advisory Council(NAC) members, academicians, labour rights activists and street vendors representatives on Friday coming in support of the suffering Mumbai hawkers and demanding immediate intervention of the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken and the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan to ensure immediate stopping of the forced eviction drive and justice to the suffering street vendors and hawkers.
A petition, in this regard, signed by well known academician and labour expert of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Professor Sharit Bhowmik, NAC member Mirai Chatterjee, former NAC member and director of Center for Equity Studies Harsh Mander, SEWA president Renana Jhabvala and NASVI president and coordinator Manali Shah and Arbind Singh, has been sent to Mr. Maken and Mr. Chauhan.
The petition has urged the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and the Maharashtra Chief Minister to ensure immediate stopping of evictions and reinstatement of evicted vendors in their places, compensation to the family of the vendor Madan Jaiswal who died in police action in Mumbai on 11 January, 2013 and recognition of all natural markets and certificate of vending to vendors/hawkers in Mumbai.
The petition says, “The current eviction drive of hawkers in Mumbai has surpassed all limits of actions against the urban poor. The worst situation prevails in the Western region of the city where all 15 police stations falling under the area from Bandra to Jogeshwari have started evicting hawkers with brutal force. In Kalina and Ville Parle areas, the private security guards have been employed by the police to come heavily on the hawkers”. It adds, “The marauding police make raids and start abusing and beating hawkers before arresting them. Women vendors are mostly targeted as they are viewed as weak and helpless. The arrested hawkers are being fined heavily with an amount of not less than Rs. 1,200.The eastern region of the city is also witnessing continuous police raids against hawkers”.
The petition states, “The intensity of these evictions started following the death of a hawker in a similar raid on 11 January 2013. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vasant Dhoble, who was conducting the drive, was subsequently transferred. From the moment this happened, the police and the municipal authorities have come out in full force and have started evictions against all hawkers in the city and its suburbs. It appears as if the concerned authorities are taking revenge for the transfer of their colleague. The police have given statements to the media that they will not stop the raids until all hawkers between Bandra and Jogeshwari are evicted permanently”.
The signatories state in the petition, “This eviction drive has caused tremendous loss of livelihoods to the affected hawkers who number nearly two lakhs. These people have been rendered in penury. There are also other sections of the population who have been similarly affected by the eviction of hawkers. These include vegetable growers in the region, hundreds of thousands of workers in micro and small factories and home-based workers (most of them poor women) who produce goods that are sold through hawkers and the urban poor who depend on hawkers for their requirements.”
Meanwhile, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) has stepped up the campaign for the justice to hawkers in Mumbai. Just after the police action led death of a hawker in Mumbai last month, NASVI had organized protests in Mumbai, Delhi and several cities and towns of the country demanding halt on forced eviction of hawkers, suspension of ACP Vasant Dhoble and compensation to the family of the deceased hawker. The street vendors’ body also had faxed and mailed memoranda to the concerned authorities in Delhi and Mumbai including Union Home Minister, Home Secretary, Maharashtra Chief Minister and State Home Minister. NASVI also has launched an Online Campaign under which a petition to the Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson, HUPA Minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister has been posted and the citizenry is being requested to sign it to ensure justice to the hawkers in Mumbai.