Major wholesale and retail markets in Delhi did not open for business on Tuesday after the Confederation of All India Traders called a one-day strike in protest against the ongoing sealing drive in the national Capital. More than seven lakh traders from about 2,500 traders’ associations were scheduled to participate in the protest, according to the Hindustan Times.
The municipal corporations in the city have been closing down shops since December 2017 because of alleged violations of building safety norms, on the orders of a Supreme Court-appointed panel. In February, popular markets in the city had remained shut for two days for the same reason.
The strike prompted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to convene a meeting at his residence on Tuesday, ANI reported. Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Arvinder Singh Lovely attended the meeting, but the Bharatiya Janata Party skipped it. Kejriwal has threatened to go on a hunger strike if the problem is not resolved by the end of the month.
Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 10, asking him to introduce a Bill in Parliament to put an end to the sealing drive. He had also urged Congress President Rahul Gandhi to o raise his voice in Parliament against the sealing action.
The sealing drive began on December 22, 2017, when shops and restaurants in south Delhi’s Defence Colony Market were shut down because of unauthorised constructions. The civic body has since taken action against shops in a number of markets such as Khan Market, Mehar Chand Market, and markets in Sundar Nagar, Hauz Khas, Rajendra Nagar, Chhatarpur and Vasant Kunj. The shops were sealed as they allegedly have not paid conversion charges, and for encroachment and illegal construction, among other things.
On March 8, the police allegedly manhandled a photojournalist with a Hindi daily while he was covering the sealing drive in South East Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. They even baton charged traders who were protestingagainst the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s action.