North Indian hawkers protested at Azad Maidan against the forcible eviction of hawkers by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Satis bridge near Thane Railway Station. They urged the state government to provide designated places for hawkers to carry out their business. Vendors also want the government to implement The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. As per the provision of the act, vending licences should be issued to a number equivalent to 2.5 per cent of the city’s population. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)) had appointed Town Vending Committee to conduct a survey of hawkers, collect identity proof and address proof documents from them but hawkers are yet to be offered a designated place to run their business. Thus the act remains on paper due to shoddy implementation. Various NGOs and social activists have been fighting for the cause of hawkers but they are yet to get justice. Even Congress and BJP only raise this issue ahead of election but don’t take any concrete steps to resolve hawkers’ problems.
Political parties have criticised the manner in which MNS had taken action against hawkers. According to them the party should carry out peaceful agitation and not disrupt law and order in the city.
When AV spoke to Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena MP and member of Railway Board said, “MNS can go ahead with the agitation against hawkers. Since the party is not in power it can undertake such campaigns. The railways have already approved budget for carrying out various infrastructural development of railway stations in the city. Railways have failed to take action against vendors carrying out business on railway stations.”
Kirit Somaiya, BJP MP said, “Even though a legislation has been passed to regulate the functioning of hawkers but many times they encroach public places like railway stations and bus stands thereby causing inconvenience to commuters. Often large number of passengers alight at railway stations in the city during peak hours therefore there is no space left for them to walk. Only railways and BMC can take appropriate action against illegal vendors.”
Prasad Surve, MNS city president Mira-Bhayandar said, “We had issued a notice to the railways to evict illegal hawkers from railway stations but they turned a blind eye towards it hence, we took initiative to oust vendors. MNS will continue to protest in future too and will ask citizens to join this initiative.”
Nagesh Mahendrakar, a commuter said, “MNS should have carried out protest in a peaceful manner instead of resorting to violence. Many foot-over-bridges are narrow in the city and suburban stations that witness heavy commuter footfalls. Often passengers remain unaware about amenities available to them at railway stations. MNS must exercise some restraint before indulging in violence as hawkers hail from poor financial background hence, they are running their business to earn their livelihood.”
Raju Purohit, BJP MLA said, “MNS should not take law into its own hands and must protest peacefully. The government will take necessary steps to rehabilitate hawkers and MNS should not interfere in this matter.”