Cops, civic bodies nexus behind illegal markets

Corporation fixes space for  markets, but they take up more than allotted area 

Most weekly markets in the capital operate with the permission of civic bodies, but there are also some don't. It is alleged that these unauthorised markets thrive in collusion with corrupt police and municipal corporation officers.   

The municipal corporations’ licensing departments have the authority to allot space for such markets and they charge Rs 15 per stall. But in practice there is a huge mismatch between the number of stalls allotted by a corporation and the actual number of shops that come up. 

A councillor from Paharganj under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation says police and municipal corporation officers are hand in glove in letting more stalls operate. Every week, in the Paharganj main market area, there is a Som Bazaar (Monday market).  “On papers there will be 200 shops, but in reality there will be over 500 shops in such markets. It’s an open secret that police and municipal corporation officers take bribe from these vendors,” the councillor says. 

The corporation fixes the space for these weekly markets, but they are usually take up more than the allotted area, the councillor says. “More and more people are migrating to Delhi in search of job. Most of them end up selling goods in such markets. These markets have become hub of such people,” he adds. 

The shop owners at the main market say there is a dalal (middleman) who takes money from these vendors and give it to police and municipal corporation officers. “Everybody knows him, but nobody is willing to identify him,” adds a shop owner, pointing out the man.

When Deccan Herald went up to the ‘middleman’, he declined to comment and started walking away, and later ran away from the market. 

Police have told vendors at street markerts to use tables with folding stands and to ensure adequate lighting. “Such measures have been adopted so that no anti-social element can place any suspicious object at the shops,” says a police officer.

The traffic police have also agreed to allow these markets if they don’t spill over to the arterial roads. “The main concerns over allowing weekly markets are traffic and security, and if these concerns are taken care of then the traffic police have no issue in allowing them,” says Anil Shukla, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic). 

CCTV cameras have been installed in some of these markets to keep track of criminals, especially to keep an eye on crime against women. 

“The footage is closely monitored as the markets are targeted by local criminals. Pickpocketing and theft have emerged as a nuisance, but terror activities can’t also be ruled out due to the huge crowds that flock to the markets,” a police officer says.  Police find it difficult to manage the crowd, but say that they keep a tab on `bad characters' of the area to prevent street  crimes.

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