The brainchild of late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, Palika Bazar was built by the NDMC during the Emergency in a record time of less than a year and opened in 1979.(Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)
The brainchild of late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, Palika Bazar was built by the NDMC during the Emergency in a record time of less than a year and opened in 1979.(Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)

‘Notorious’: Another tryst with infamy for Delhi’s Palika Bazar

By the mid-1980s, as the popularity of audio and video cassettes grew, many gifts and garments shops in the central hall of the market began selling electronics items.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 02:41 AM IST

Last week, Baljit Singh Kohli’s office was inundated with phone calls after Palika Bazar was named in 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy by Office of the United States Trade Representative ( USTR). “A lot of them were shopkeepers of the market, but nobody seemed to know abut the agency, or what it said about the market,” says Kohli.

“Palika Bazar, the underground market in Delhi is reportedly well-known for the trade of counterfeit products,” according the review by the US agency, which has also listed the Tank Road market in Delhi’s Karol Bagh besides Heera Panna in Mumbai, Kidderpore in Kolkata, and Snapdeal, one of India’s largest e-commerce platforms.

Kohli, chairman, Palika Bazar Shopkeepers Welfare Association, countered the assessment. “Our market has completely transformed from an electronics market to a garments hub in the past decade. Most of what we sell now is made in India and some of it could be Chinese like in any other market in the city. So where is the question of counterfeiting and piracy?” he says.

The listing by USTR was another chapter in the controversial history of India’s first air-conditioned underground market. The brainchild of late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, Palika Bazar was built by the NDMC during the Emergency in a record time of less than a year and opened in 1979. Initially, the shops were allotted to post-Partition refugees who had their shops on Panchkuian Road.

“When the market opened in 1979, it mostly had handicraft, gift shops, and many restaurants such as Hackman’s and Tiffin Top; and Lords, the famous ice-cream parlour. However, there were only a few customers,” says Darshan Lal Kakkar, 65, president of the market association, who runs a Forex shop in Palika Bazar.“But the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi came as a big boost to the business here.”

By the mid-1980s, as the popularity of audio and video cassettes grew, many gifts and garments shops in the central hall of the market began selling electronics items. And by the late 1980s, the market became a favourite haunt of those looking for video cassettes of Bollywood and Hollywood blockbusters, video cassette players, and a few years later for Walkman, Discman, cameras, digital diaries, gaming consoles — all imported or smuggled from Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.

Not just electronics, the bazar was also a popular place for shoppers of Timotei shampoo, Converse shoes and many other foreign brands in the pre-globalisation era. Many shops like Clydes that sold heavy metal band merchandise commanded a large fan following. And, in summers, many Delhiites descended the steps of the market simply to escape the heat.

Piracy hub

The first major blow to the market’s reputation came in the mid-90s when there was a major police raid on the shops selling video cassettes, and many shop keepers, who were allegedly selling pirated movies, were arrested. That was also the time when the market gained an unsavoury reputation for being an underground porn hub.

While Sanjay Arora , a shopkeeper in the market, says adult movies were mostly sold by hawkers who came to the market from outside, another shopkeeper who does not wish to be named admits that a few video cassette sellers in the market had set up units in places such as Nangloi, with as many as 200 VCRs churning out pirated copies of movies. Some of these, he says, did sell adult movies mostly reproduced on cheap video cassettes. “There was a lot of money to be made in the 1980s in the video cassette business and piracy thrived in the market,” he says.

Most shops in the central hall and its mezzanine floor that once sold only video and audio cassettes are today electronics goods and garments shops. In fact, today Palika presents a curious sight—there are many shops with a front sign identifying them as electronics shops, but they are actually selling garments and shoes. So, you have a Rainbow Video selling ladies garments; Sound Trek, another electronics shop, selling garments at a fixed price of 250.

Changing business

Most of the erstwhile owners of the electronics and video cassettes shops have been experimenting with different businesses for the past decade.

For instance, Jasbir Singh Gill, 66, who was once known in the market as cassette king, started a small snacks shop three months ago, having run a garments shop for over a decade.

Similarly, many other shops that were popular in the 1990s have changed their line of business. Clydes, which used to sell heavy rock bands cassettes and merchandise including T-Shirts, shorts and beanies. “In the 1990s, apart from tourists most of our clients were fashionable, English-speaking youngsters from Delhi, Mumbai, and northeastern states of India. Our customers had been dwindling drastically. We stared selling garments by 2005, as the number of our customers had dropped drastically,” says Sushil Deshwar, who runs the shop with his brother.

Some shopkeepers feel that the dubious reputation of Palika Bazar has adversely affected their business. Rakesh Talwar, who runs Leather Talks, a leather goods shop, says he opened the shop in the market in 1979. “We were based in Kolkata, where we produced our goods. In the first few years, we felt our decision to open our second outlet was right. But today, I feel suffocated here; it has not been easy convincing customers about the genuineness of products because of the market’s reputation for counterfeiting,” says Talwar. “This does not even remotely resemble the market I came to in 1979,” he says.

Similarly, Rajat Gupta, who runs Rajiv Book House, set up by his father in 1979, bristles at any reference to the market having been an electronics hub. “It had some of the finest bookshops, attracting book lovers from all over Delhi and outside. But yes, our business is down like never before and we are currently weighing our options,” says Gupta.

But for Ravi Thakur, Palika Bazar has turned out to be a perfect place for business. He opened his first tattoo shop here in 2013, and today runs four tattoo parlours in the market, which attract a steady stream of customers in an otherwise deserted market, where dozens of tattoo shops have come up over the few years. “Today, Palika is the biggest hub of tattoo parlours,” says Thakur, who runs Tattoo World.

But Kakkar is not amused at the market’s new reputation as a tattoo hub. “We have tolerated these tattoo shops as they have helped bring in footfalls. We are trying to figure out how the market can reinvent itself,” he says.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
Close
In the report, the deputy chief minister was quoted as saying that the government believed that the "only way to stop the spread of this virus is to test aggressively."(AP)
In the report, the deputy chief minister was quoted as saying that the government believed that the "only way to stop the spread of this virus is to test aggressively."(AP)

Delhi government says 87.8 lakh Covid-19 tests done till Dec 31, 2020

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 06:44 PM IST
The Delhi government's 'Outcome Budget' for 2020-21 was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday, showing the education, health, public works and environment departments as top performers.
Close
A doctor wearing PPE coveralls distributes Covid-19 test reports to patients at LNJP Hospital, in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna / Hindustan Times)
A doctor wearing PPE coveralls distributes Covid-19 test reports to patients at LNJP Hospital, in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna / Hindustan Times)

Delhi records 239 fresh Covid-19 cases, number of active cases also drop

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 06:47 PM IST
  • Delhi reported 312 and 321 new Covid-19 cases on Friday and Saturday respectively. Authorities in the national capital were advised by the health ministry to keep a check on the number of rising cases after the daily infections reported on March 5 and March 6 went above 300.
Close
In real terms, the contraction in Delhi's GSDP is expected at 5.68 per cent in 2020-21 compared to a degrowth of 8 per cent at national level, said the report.(Shivam Saxena/ HT Photo. Representative image)
In real terms, the contraction in Delhi's GSDP is expected at 5.68 per cent in 2020-21 compared to a degrowth of 8 per cent at national level, said the report.(Shivam Saxena/ HT Photo. Representative image)

Delhi's economy projected to contract by 5.68% in FY21 due to Covid-19: Report

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 06:31 PM IST
However, the advance estimate of the gross state domestic product (GSDP) of Delhi at current price during 2020-21 is 7,98,310 crore, showing a contraction of 3.92 per cent over the previous year.
Close
Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha(ANI)
Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha(ANI)

Delhi moves SC against Haryana for clean water supply: AAP's Raghav Chadha

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 05:46 PM IST
Chadha on Sunday accused the Haryana government of reducing the water supply to the national capital which was resulting in water scarcity.
Close
PM6 levels below 40 µg/m3 and PM10 levels below 100 µg/m3 are considered safe in India. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)
PM6 levels below 40 µg/m3 and PM10 levels below 100 µg/m3 are considered safe in India. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

Survey shows average levels of pollutants in Delhi in 2020 lowest in seven years

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 05:41 PM IST
Government data also showed that average levels of the major pollutants in the city have been decreasing steadily over the years.
Close
The per capita income at current prices is estimated at <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>354,004 against per capita income of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>127,768 at the national level.(HT File)
The per capita income at current prices is estimated at 354,004 against per capita income of 127,768 at the national level.(HT File)

Delhi's GSDP contracts by 3.9 pc to 7.9 lakh crore in FY 21: Economic Survey

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:37 PM IST
The per capita expenditure on health in Delhi increased from 1,996 in 2014-15 to 3,029 in 2019-20.
Close
Shilpam Ratan, manager, ATC, Delhi airport(ANI Photo)
Shilpam Ratan, manager, ATC, Delhi airport(ANI Photo)

All-women team takes charge of traffic control operations at Delhi's IGI airport

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:09 PM IST
  • AAI tweeted video with along with a post that read, “AAI derives its strength from its women workforce. Maintaining individuality, these invincible women go beyond & above their call of duty to serve the nation.
Close
A security personnel looks through a shuttered Metro station gate. (PTI)
A security personnel looks through a shuttered Metro station gate. (PTI)

Delhi Metro shuts Green Line stns between Tikri Kalan, Brigadier Hoshiar Singh

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 06:10 PM IST
Senior officials of the Metro said that the gates were closed on the directions of the Delhi Police as a safety measure to maintain peace at the farmers’ protest site
Close
In Batla House case, court pronounces Ariz Khan guilty of killing Delhi Police inspector Mohan Sharma
In Batla House case, court pronounces Ariz Khan guilty of killing Delhi Police inspector Mohan Sharma

Batla House encounter: Court pronounces Ariz Khan guilty of killing Delhi cop

By hindustantimes.com | Reported by Richa Banka | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:17 PM IST
The court said that through evidence adduced on record, including ocular, documentary and scientific, prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Khan along with accomplices, in furtherance of common intention, obstructed inspector Sharma in discharge of public function in common intention.
Close
Amid the challenging year, traffic police adapted to the new realities of life and tweaked enforcement strategies.(PTI)
Amid the challenging year, traffic police adapted to the new realities of life and tweaked enforcement strategies.(PTI)

Number of road accidents in Delhi dropped in 2020: Delhi Police

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:03 PM IST
According to Taj Hassan, Special Commissioner Police, Traffic, Delhi Police there was a 26 per cent drop in the number of accidents. A total of 5,610 accidents, including 1,433 fatal ones, were reported in 2019, while 4,178, including 1,163 fatal accidents were reported in 2020.
Close
While there was no reason cited by the DMRC, it may be noted that on the occasion of International Women’s Day, women farmers, students and activists turned up in huge numbers at the Tikri border. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
While there was no reason cited by the DMRC, it may be noted that on the occasion of International Women’s Day, women farmers, students and activists turned up in huge numbers at the Tikri border. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Entry, exit at several Delhi metro stations on green line shut

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:23 PM IST
The demonstrators want a repeal of the three laws enacted by the government in September last year to facilitate free farm trade. The farmers, however, say that the legislation will hurt their livelihood and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
Close
Representational Image. (File photo)
Representational Image. (File photo)

Delhi AQI in moderate category, no improvement likely till tomorrow

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 10:26 AM IST
On Sunday, the average 24-hour AQI was 256. Union ministry of earth science’s air quality monitoring centre said that the air quality in the Capital was going to remain in the poor to moderate category
Close
Delhi Police’s special cell at the encounter spot in Jamia Nagar in New Delhi. (HT Archive)
Delhi Police’s special cell at the encounter spot in Jamia Nagar in New Delhi. (HT Archive)

Batla House encounter: Delhi court to pronounce verdict on Ariz Khan’s role

PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:15 AM IST
35-year-old Khan was arrested by the Special Cell of the city police in February 2018 after being on the run for 10 years
Close
File photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal,(PTI File Photo)
File photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal,(PTI File Photo)

With theme of 'patriotism', Delhi govt to table budget on Tuesday

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 08:47 AM IST
The budget is also likely to have proposals to open 'Sainik Schools' in Delhi and promote yoga at a widescale in the city.
Close
A group of demonstrators from Kerala play a traditional drum at the Ghazipur border protest site as the agitation against new farm laws continues in New Delhi on Sunday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A group of demonstrators from Kerala play a traditional drum at the Ghazipur border protest site as the agitation against new farm laws continues in New Delhi on Sunday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Farmers’ protest: Key Delhi borders remain closed, traffic diverted

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 08:31 AM IST
The Jharoda border, which was partially closed all this while, reopened fully for traffic on Sunday evening
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP