Around 300 shopkeepers, most of them tenants, are demanding that the government should rehabilitate them before demolishing their shops to make way for the four-laning of the GT Road at Naushehra Majha Singh.
These shopkeepers have been holding a two-hour protest everyday along the GT Road for the past 25 days to press for their demand.
Their protest took a new turn on Wednesday when 10 of them climbed up the main water supply tank and threatened that they would not come down till the government promises to rehabilitate them.
They said that if their shops are demolished, they would have nowhere to go, and it would be better for them to commit suicide under these circumstances.
Former Batala MLA and SAD area incharge Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, through a union leader, managed to persuade them to climb down the water tank and promised that he would put up their demand before the government and the National Highways Authority of India. He also promised to get them rehabilitated soon.
Tarlok Singh Chhina, president, shopkeepers' welfare association, Naushehra Majha Singh, told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that in 2008, shopkeepers of Naushehra Majha Singh had given a memorandum to the deputy commissioner demanding their rehabilitation before their shops are demolished for building an overbridge on the GT Road and making the road four-lane. He said the DC had promised to get a shopping complex built for their rehabilitation before demolishing their shops. He said the National Highways Authority of India had given compensation to the owners of the shops in question, but did not chalk out any programme for providing relief to the tenant shopkeepers who owned small businesses.
Chhina said that in a meeting with shopkeepers on Wednesday, the Gurdaspur DC had assured them of all help. Lodhinangal was also present at the meeting.