Mumbai newspaper vendors seek special status, want protection from eviction at stations
They have once again demanded that they be granted a status of essential service providersmumbai Updated: Oct 16, 2017 00:17 IST
Harried owing to repeated action by the police, railway and civic authorities following the Elphinstone Road station stampede, newspaper vendors in Mumbai and neighbouring areas have once again demanded that they be granted a status of essential service providers. They have said that the ongoing eviction drive against them should be stopped.
“In case of any emergency situation in the city, the government does not stop distribution of newspapers along with other essentials such as milk, medicines and vegetables. This is because we are one of the communication channels between the government and people. Hence, we expect similar dignity during other times too,” said Sanjay Chaukekar, executive president of Brihanmumbai Vrutapatra Vikreta Sangh (BVVS), which represents newspaper vendors in Mumbai.
The Government Railway Police, Railway Protection Force, the Mumbai police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have started a drive to remove hawkers from railway stations and outside areas, following the September 29 stampede which left 23 people dead.
They have also evicted newspaper vendors, especially after the MNS chief Raj Thackeray threatened action against hawkers if the railways failed to remove them from its premises.
In this backdrop, 1,5000 vendors in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai have been demanding permanent space. The drive against hawkers has affected nearly 550 newspaper vendors at suburban railway stations.
Vendors have also approached political leaders such as Raj Thackeray, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Congress’ Nitesh Rane and railway authorities and municipal bodies.
Politicians have promised to facilitate meetings with the authorities. Madhusudhan Sadhadeka of BVVS said they met Uddhav, who promised to take up the matter with the BMC commissioner and mayor.
“Historically, newspapers were sold at junctions for the convenience of passengers. We are being treated like criminals,” said Ajit Patil, another leader of newspaper vendors, adding that they have been booked for unlawful assembly and rioting.