Traders ask police to open way for business

Shopkeepers at Singhu border say they are suffering losses due to ongoing stir

Shopkeepers from Shiva Market, located near the main protest stage at the Singhu border, gathered on Wednesday near the barricades set up close to their establishments, and requested authorities to allow them to open their shops.

Om Prakash, 32, a resident of Narela who runs a spare parts shop, said that before January 26, they were able to open their shops and some customers were still coming. “However, after the violence on Republic Day, we were forced to shut our shops. All routes have been blocked by the police. Two entry points that were open till then were closed after January 29,” he said.

With an application in hand, the shopkeepers requested the officers on duty to let them meet senior officials. However, they were informed that the seniors were not available for talks.

The shopkeepers said that because of the ongoing farmers’ protest, they are suffering heavy losses and are unable to pay rent.

They sought help in opening up the market so they could restart their business.

Shopkeepers said they are managing to reach their shops to clean the premises, however, no customers are coming as all the routes are closed. “We go to clean the shop once in two-three days but we are incurring huge losses,” said Mr. Prakash who has a family of 10.

Paying rent

Satnam, 32, another resident of Narela, said they have to pay rent of ₹30,000-₹50,000 a month, depending on space, but have not earned much in the past few weeks. “Our landlord is not concerned that our shops are not opening. He is not waiving the rent. How will we survive?” he said, adding that he has to take care of his eight family members.

Shopkeepers also complained that goods worth lakhs are expiring or rotting away in their shops. Some have had to take out a loan to manage their household expenses. “I have taken a loan of ₹1.5 lakh on 3% interest to take care of household expenses,” said Mr. Prakash.

‘No one is listening’

Shopkeepers said that they have been trying to reach police officers for 10 days, and have been coming to the Singhu border for two days. “But no one is listening to us… All we want is for the police to allow us and our customers to reach the shops,” said Mr. Satnam.

Residents of Singhu village had gathered last week demanding that barricades installed at the entry point of their village be removed.

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