Drive against street vendors puts livelihoods at stake

Drive against street vendors puts livelihoods at stake

Downtrodden, disabled stare at uncertain future

It was 22 years ago that Basheer, a bus cleaner met with an accident which rendered him physically challenged for life. Undeterred, he took to street vending, selling fancy items to eke out his living. Now, uncertainty looms large with the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) evicting street vendors.

Basheer was one among scores of street vendors who staged a protest in front of the city corporation office at Lalbagh, on Thursday. Prior to that, Basheer, with a metal stick for support, was waiting for the fellow vendors, who arrived in a rally under the aegis of Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU).

Narrating his plight to Deccan Herald, Basheer said, “I was selling fancy items near Lady Goschen, but was evicted in the name of building a bus stand. Since then I have taken to line sales. But, having lost two legs, (replaced by wooden legs) and disfigured fingers, how long should I continue to slog like this?”

Without any hedge, Basheer, who is now aged 41, adds “My hands have adequate strength. I have to take care of my parents and wife, with the meagre income.”
Basheer, who also claims to be 85% physically challenged, made all efforts to avail of government benefits for setting up a kiosk, but in vain. He is part of a bigger narrative, as the street vendors are left with no choice, but to take to streets for their just demands.

‘Vendors targeted’
Addressing the protesters, Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), Dakshina Kannada district unit secretary Vasanth Acharya described the drive against street vendors as anti-constitutional. Tiger, an emergency squad of the city corporation has been deployed only to target minnows like street vendors, he said.

The town vending committee involving vendors and officials has remained ineffective, with no meeting held since the past nine months.

Honorary president of Dakshina Kannada Jilla Beedibadi Vyaparasthara Sangha, Sunil Kumar Bajal said, “Though 1,600 street vendors were identified in a survey during 2014 and identity cards were issued to 208 vendors, they are yet to get their cards renewed since a year. In the second phase, though 350 vendors were listed for ID cards, they are yet to get the same.”

Street vendors from different parts of the city took part in the protest.

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