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Delhi traders call of stir

Delhi's traders call off their protest against the sealings - for now.

November 1, 2006

The three-day strike called by traders in New Delhi against the court-directed drive to close illegal shops in residential areas has been called off. Meanwhile, the government urged the Supreme Court to delay its action.

Traders in the capital had been on the warpath and had halted market activities since Monday. The agitation assumed bigger proportions when it turned violent on Wednesday. Agitating traders stoned vehicles and set them on fire, as the traffic went dead for hours together. Though no one was injured, minor scuffles between traders and police kept the scene grim. Around 40 protesters were detained by the police.

The strike and the street fights that ensued led to the blocking of a highway connecting New Delhi with Uttar Pradesh. Some of the schools were forced to declare a holiday.

Later on in the evening, the Confederation of All India Traders, which was at the forefront of the strike, announced that the stir was being withdrawn. According to the body, the decision comes in the interest of the shopkeepers and workers.

Meanwhile the Centre has urged the court to allow illegal shops to continue business till the year end. With the city authorities all set to continue with their pressure to close the shops, the scene might take a different turn. The court is expected to respond to the Centreís petition on Thursday.

The government as said that the closure drive could not be carried out in view of the unrest. The ball is now in the courtís play field and a decision is expected soon.

It has been estimated that the loss to the government based on average value-added tax collections may come up to Rs 1 billion. The stir began after the Supreme Court had ordered that shops around 2,000 city roads passing through residential areas were illegal and had to be shut. As many as 40,000 traders were told move by the end of October or face action.


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