Asked to vacate shops to facilitate the ongoing beautification of the area around the Golden Temple, the shopkeepers having their businesses in the vicinity have urged the state government to let them do business till they are suitably rehabilitated. The affected shopkeepers claimed that they had been promised shops in the new plaza, but the same is not mentioned in the written communiqué issued to them.
Gurdeep Singh Bawa, president, Golden Temple Complex Shopkeepers' Association, said that the association had met Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar, who said he could not intervene as the project was being overseen by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
"When we met the deputy CM, he, too, didn't give us any concrete assurance in this regard," said Bawa. He said that the affected shopkeepers had been running shops in the area for decades. "We have been doing business in the area for over 40 years and had suffered a lot during the militancy, but still didn't leave the area," he said.
Parminder Singh, finance secretary of the association, said that earlier the shop owners had been asked to make their signages uniform, which they readily complied with. "Now we have been given notices to vacate the shops. The lives of all shop owners and their workers are about to be ruined," he said.
Jagjivan Singh, secretary of the association, said that in view of the humanitarian aspect, the shopkeepers should be earmarked a suitable place to run their businesses from before vacating the shops. "The Indian Constitution guarantees livelihood to all. Hence, no one should deprive us of our basic right," he said.