Amid protests by shopkeepers over the Punjab and Haryana high court's order to seal commercial establishments in residential areas here, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday assured them that the state government would consider their problem sympathetically within the legal framework.
Badal, who reached here in the evening, said this after meeting a deputation of Patiala Beopar Bachao Sangharash Committee, who apprised him about the plight of the shopkeepers.
The chief minister directed the chief secretary to hold deliberations with the representatives of the trading community affected by the sealing drive in consultation with the state advocate general for amicable resolution of the problem within the ambit of law.
According to sources, the chief minister has directed the schedule of the meeting in Chandigarh on August 16 during which the affected shopkeepers would explain their position to him.
"After we apprised the chief minister that due to the sealing order, more than 3,200 shopkeepers and their staff would be left on the streets with no employment, he assured us that he would look into the issue," said Rakesh Gupta, president of the committee.
Badal said the government respected the orders of the court and would take up the matter further only after thoroughly discussing it with legal experts.
During the meeting it was also discussed that the high court had granted relief to the affected shopkeepers by extending the deadline of the sealing by three weeks.
Earlier, the court had directed the Patiala municipal corporation to submit a compliance report of the sealing orders on August 21.
The SAD-BJP government move to intervene in the matter came after the affected shopkeepers accused it about not protecting their interests. The civic body, on the other hand, was in a fix how to enforce the court's orders.
Meanwhile, the bandh call given by shopkeepers on Tuesday against the proposed sealing drive evoked huge support with all commercial establishments here remaining closed throughout the day. Residents had to travel to the outskirts to buy grocery and food items.
This was the second time in four days that a bandh was observed in the city. On August 10, shopkeepers had observed a shutdown following orders of the sealing drive that was to start from Tuesday.