Thane: After Thane police closed down shops excluding the essential service providers across Thane, Kalyan, and Ulhasnagar, the shopkeepers started protesting in different ways. Thane shopkeepers stood with placards against the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA submitted a letter to the Thane collector. While in Ulhasnagar hundreds of shopkeepers came on the road and walked around the bylanes shouting slogans against the government and protesting to open the shops.
The Thane based Naupada Vyapari Mandal had laid a protest at Gokhale road market area with placards in their hands. The slogans on placards read, "My Family, My Responsibility; My Business, My Responsibility; My Workers; My Responsibility, Maharashtra Government????"
Mitesh Shah, President of Naupada Vyapari Mandal who owns an electronic gadgets shop had also joined the protest. He said, "Two days before the Chief Minister told about a mini lockdown i.e from Friday night 8 pm to Monday morning 7 am. However, on Monday night, the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) officials came in the evening and gave instruction to close all shops other than the essential service providers till April 30. The government wants the shopkeepers to come on road or commit suicide. Till March they collected all the taxes and in April, imposed a strict lockdown," added Shah.
The campaign and protest was joined by BJP MLA Sanjay Kelkar and MLC Niranjan Davkhare. The shopkeepers along with Kelkar and Davkhare had submitted the memorandum to Thane collector. "The authorities just think their way. We already had closed shops for 15 months. Many of us have paid rent from our own pocket. Many even stay in rented flats. The government is putting us in debt by first allowing us to take materials from the market and later close shops and keep it to get dust and suffer losses. In Thane, the shopkeepers are standing outside their shop to get justice and are questioning the government. How we will feed our family? Isn't it our responsibility?" said Kamlesh Bheda, who owns a ladies dress shop in Naupada.
The Naupada police reached the spot and asked the shopkeepers to avoid gathering as crowd is not allowed and Section 144 is imposed.
Ulhasnagar city being a hub of garments and wholesale market too saw a protest. Soon after the local police asked them to close shops, hundreds of shopkeepers came on the road protesting against the government authorities against the decision to lockdown. Many of them claim if we don't come on road for protest, we will be on road with debt on us. A shopkeeper too was injured and sent to civic hospital for treatment. Locals alleged he was assaulted by police.
However, Kalyan and Dombivli shopkeepers ask the authorities to at least give and the option of P1 and P2 an alternate day for shopkeepers. "How will they pay the rent and salary of the worker?" asked the shopkeepers.
Shopkeepers from Kalyan have posted their mobile numbers on closed shops shutters requesting customers to contact them on mobile phones for any kind of shopping.