The usual hustle and bustle of Old Delhi was missing for the second consecutive day on Friday.
Markets remained deserted or closed because of low footfall. Reports of raid by the Income Tax department or VAT department also kept businessmen away from the shopping hub.
Traders in Chandni Chowk, Bhagirath Palace, Dariba, Chawri Bazaar, Khari Baoli, Kashmere Gate, and Sadar Bazar reached their shops on Friday morning but were largely occupied with accounting work. However, a few eateries in Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk area did some business but their sale was down by 80%.
Mohammad Danish, owner of a Darya Ganj restaurant - ‘Dilli Gate’ - said number of daily orders (including walk-in clients) have reduced to 20% of the regular sale.
“Major chunk of the sale is coming from home delivery orders. We are receiving barely one or two customers in the day and if they have R500 or R1,000 notes, they return,” he said.
Observing the situation in the market, traders of the Old Delhi area said business would further decline in the coming days due to shortage of notes of smaller denomination. “New R 2,000 notes will not help much as we don’t have sufficient R 100 or R 10 notes to give out change. The sudden demonetization has certainly affected the trade here. This is why a large number of businessmen in Chandni Chowk did not open shops on Friday,” said Sanjay Bhargava, general secretary, Chandni Chowk Sarv Vypar Mandal.
He also said that the fear of raids by IT or VAT department is another reason for the market closure. Dinesh Chawla of ‘Lahore Dry Fruit’, the 60-year-old shop in Khari Baoli, said most shops were closed as no one wanted to take risk in view of the ‘searches and survey’ being carried out by the tax officials.
“Deadline to use R 500 and R 1, 000 should have been till December instead of the two-three days’ window. There is almost no circulation of smaller denomination notes. Hence, only a few buyers are coming to the market,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday evening tweeted that raids were not being conducted by the VAT department. “Rumour that Del VAT dept doing raids. Completely false. No raids by VAT. If anyone claims to be from VAT, ask for his ID n report to polic (sic),” he tweeted on Friday evening.
On Thursday, IT sleuths carried out ‘search’ at a popular jewelery store in Dariba Kalan, which triggered panic among businessmen who shut shops to avoid any action.
H Rajesh Prasad, Delhi VAT Commissioner said, “If any dealer being inspected or person needs to clarify the identity or authenticity of any VAT official, he may ask for his authorization letter and in case of any clarification may call on helpline numbers 155055 and 1800110066.”