Accompanied by his son and daughter, 40-year-old Shantanu Singh made his way through the streets of Delhi University, recollecting his youthful days at St. Stephen's College. He recalled how throughout college he lived on street food.
However, Singh, who recently returned from the US, was unaware that before the start of the Commonwealth Games, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) displaced more than 150 local vendors in north Delhi, leaving them unemployed.
Singh discovered that the vendor who sold bhel puri outside his college for 25 years, now pulled rickshaws to earn a living.
On their part, the vendors said the police repeatedly harassed them during eviction.
“Government authorities have no mercy. They broke my cycle carriage, threw my vessels and gas cylinder, and threatened to kill me,” said Edwin James, 61, who ran a banta carriage outside Hindu College.
Aged vendors like James are not physically strong enough to pull rickshaws or resort to heavy labour, leaving them unemployed.
Students and lecturers at the university, too, were disheartened with the MCD's move. They said the corporation should have initiated an alternative plan for these displaced vendors. “Authorities at the MCD, however, denied all allegations. “The MCD merely displaced unlicensed vendors for security reasons,” said Deep Mathur, spokesperson of MCD.