Mira-Bhayandar: The brazen attack on a local shop owner by a mob of hawkers in Mira Road late on Sunday night has yet again put the spotlight on the menace of hawkers which has reached alarming proportions in the twin-city. The incident was reported from the Shanti Nagar area of Mira Road at around 11:15 pm when the shop owner identified as Gagansingh Rajpurohit was attacked by the mob over the issue of parking a motorcycle outside his establishment.
Although a FIR was registered at the Naya Nagar police station against five people, the shop-owners alleged that the on-duty personnel who were initially reluctant to act, finally complied only after the intervention of legislator Geeta Jain. However, senior police inspector Vilas Supe claimed that the FIR was immediately registered and three people had been arrested under the relevant sections of the IPC for their involvement in the attack.
Allegations of nexus between hawkers and ex-corporators
Irate over the blind eye turned by the civic authorities and local politicians, the shop-owners who have been objecting to the presence of hawkers, called for a bandh on Monday to register their protest against the menace which not only affected their businesses but also posed inconvenience and threat to local residents, pedestrians and motorists on the heavily congested roads.
Alleging a flourishing nexus between former corporators and civic officials’ owing to daily haftas (protection money) recovered from the hawkers, residents also took to streets demanding immediate action in weeding out the menace.
'Repeated please gone unheard'
“The hawkers have not only taken over the pavements and roads, but have also encroached upon the entrance of their society compounds leaving little walking space for them to enter or come out of their buildings. This has led to a rise in incidents of eve-teasing and chain snatching. Thanks to the huge amount of money exchanging hands, our repeated pleas to the civic authorities seeking action has gone unheard. But now we will tolerate such nuisance,” said local Reshma, who has single-handedly waged a war against the illegal hawker menace, despite getting threats.
Seeking immediate action former legislator Muzaffar Hussain alleged that the alarming surge in the number of illegal hawkers has been witnessed in the BJP's 10-year regime over the civic body. While civic officials remained unavailable for their comments, Geeta Jain said, “I have spoken to the senior officers in the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) who have assured to launch regular crackdown until the entire menace of illegal hawkers is weeded out from the region. If not, I will personally lead a morcha on the spot where even one illegal hawker is spotted.”
Mafia offers colour-coded handcarts
Thousands of handcarts conducting business in the city are controlled by local mafias who are bestowed upon by the blessings of some corporators said to be directly involved in such shady trades. Rented out to hawkers on a daily payment basis, these handcarts have a distinct colour code known to the civic staff. Hawkers using such carts are not harassed since a part of the profits appropriated by the ‘handcart mafia’ is systematically transformed into ‘hafta’. The annual turnover of the cart business runs into crores of rupees.