Thousands of traders in the Capital continued their strike for the second day on Tuesday to protest the sealing of unauthorised shops with major markets shut and some schools staying closed fearing trouble on the streets.
The traders stayed firm on the shutdown on day two of their three-day strike even as the Supreme Court monitoring committee on sealing recommended a two-week postponement in the drive.
"Our three-day strike is on and, like yesterday, thousands of traders are participating actively in the protest. Yesterday, we achieved unprecedented support. Till a final assurance on the halting of the sealing drive, the fight will continue," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
"We have read about the monitoring committee's recommendation, but there is no question of going back till a written assurance is given that we will all be spared," he added.
Traders said they would intensify their protests and hold marches in several parts of Delhi.
About 100 markets, including major ones like Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, Khari Baoli, Chawri Bazar, South Extension, Paharganj and Lajpat Nagar, will remain shut through the day.
However, chemists, who had joined the protest on Monday, are not participating in protests on Tuesday with the Delhi Retail Chemist Association saying that their strike was only for a day.
Though some schools like DPS opened on Tuesday after the day off on Monday, others like the Shriram School stayed closed amid security fears.
On Monday evening, the three-member Supreme Court monitoring committee submitted its report and recommended that the sealing drive be not resumed from Nov 1.
Taking into account the law and order situation in the Capital, the committee urged the court to defer the drive by two weeks. It also recommended that sealing not be carried out in those 2,183 roads already notified by the government for allowing commercial activity.
The report will benefit nearly 25,000 of the over 44,000 traders who submitted affidavits that they would move out from residential areas by October 31, 2006.
However, traders seemed dissatisfied and asked the Delhi government to take necessary steps to regularise all shops in residential areas.
"The government is the caretaker of citizens and there should be no discrimination in providing relief to traders," Khandelwal said.
On Monday, trouble had broken out when thousands of traders, supported by both the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), assembled near the Delhi legislative assembly. They broke steel barricades and clashed with police personnel. To disperse the crowd from entering the assembly campus, police used water cannons and fired teargas shells.