Evicted street vendors cry out, Mayor plays hide-and-seek

30 vendors, including ten women protested overnight (apr 7) at the BBMP office. They were told that the Mayor will meet them on April 8th at 3 pm.

On April 7th, more than 400 street vendors from all parts of Bangalore city, under the banner Beedhi Vyapparigala Hakkotaya Andolana, began an indefinite sit-in at the BBMP Head Office. The organisations that participated in the protest today, included Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkar Vada), National Alliance of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Bridge network, Maraa, Sangama, Samara, Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), People’s Democratic Front(PDF), Bengaluru Slum Janara Kriya Vedike, Hasru Usiru, Sadhana Mahila Sangha, Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA), People’s Union Of Civil Liberties (Bangalore) among other concerned citizens.

Street vendors demand their livelihood back. Pic: Ekta Mittal

The street vendors were camped at the BBMP compound resolute not to move till their demands are met and will continue to protest through the night. At this stage, 250 street vendors do not have a source of livelihood since we were evicted ten months ago on July 07, 2010 by the BBMP and the police department without any legal notice.

After many attempts of trying to meet the Mayor and the Commissioner, vendors tried to reclaim Meenakshi Koil and Central Street on January 24th, but the Commercial Street police detained the protesters. At the police station when we demanded to see the written order based on which the police evicted them; the police admitted that they did it based on verbal orders from the BBMP.

After several confirmed meetings with the Mayor were postponed, a meeting finally happened on February 08, 2011. After listening to the all updates and demands by street vendors, the Mayor said that they were not against street vendors and recognised their contribution to society. The Mayor emphatically stated that he was in favour of ensuring that no illegal evictions took place under any circumstances.

Street vendors demand their livelihood back. Pic: Ekta Mittal

Due to the absence of the Commissioner, the Mayor decided that he would fix another meeting with the Commissioner, BBMP officials in charge of the local area and the concerned police officials and ensure that the street vendors got their livelihood back. He mentioned that he would be fixing the meeting shortly. He assured the street vendors that they will get back their places to carry out vending and would ensure that justice is done to the street
vendors.

Based on this assurance from the Mayor, vendors agreed to wait for the Mayor’s office to fix the next meeting. Despite several reminders to the commissioner and mayor no meeting has been fixed to date.

Demands placed before the BBMP and the Urban Development Secretary

1. The evicted vendors should be restored back to the place we were evicted from and a space of 1mtr X 1mtr must be allotted to each vendor on the extreme side of the pavement to carry out their hawking.

2. The BBMP must reframe its Street Hawking scheme in accordance with the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court judgments and the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors 2009

3. The BBMP must undertake not to carry out any evictions without following the due process of law. Atrocities against vendors should be stopped immediately. In the name of beautification, BBMP must not evict any vendors anywhere in Bangalore.

Addendum
The Vendors called off the agitation on 8th April after BBMP Commissioner S Siddhaiah promised to look into their demands.  He assured the street vendors that the BBMP was committed to protecting the rights of street vendors. It was further decided in the meeting that the Andolana would submit a proposal for the putting the evicted street vendors in Shivajinagar back into business.

 

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