August 6, 2021 12:24:21 am
A bumper sale by a cloth merchant in Phagwara translated into bumper troubles for him on Wednesday, with more than 1000 women flocking the shop with the hopes of making a bargain buy and the district administration, too, turning up to the party to book the shopkeeper under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for violating Covid-related norms.
Police said the shopkeeper in question, Ashu Duggal alias Armesh, was a habitual offender and had been booked earlier too for announcing a sale during the lockdown period.
As per reports, the incident started after Ashu announced a heavily discounted sale on ladies’ suits for the Raksha Bandhan festival at his shop — aptly named Ashu Di Hatti – in Phagwara’s Banga road area. He went ahead and got pamphlets printed stating that people visiting his shop between 3:00am and 5:00am on August 4, can buy ladies suits costing Rs 5000 at just Rs 395, for Raksha Bandhan festival. He distributed the pamphlets in nearby areas and also shared them on social media.
The reaction it triggered was humongous.
Hundreds of women gathered around his shop in the wee hours on Wednesday. Though the shop opened only at 3:00am, women had started gathering from 1:00 am onwards outside the shop, where he had installed a small tent for them.
Ashu initially catered to the first 700 women giving them suits at a discounted price. However, the crowd kept surging and the situation soon got out of control, prompting Ashu to hurriedly close the shop. This, however, did not go down well with the women who were waiting, with some of them sitting on a dharna on Banga road, while others venting their ire by tearing down the tent that had been put up. News soon travelled to the administration, and officers from Phagwara City Police station rushed to the spot and pacified the agitators.
After a police team reached the spot, some women complained that they had not been given quality suits, while some others were miffed at the fact that they had paid money but were not given suits.
Sources said that Ashu used to run a shop near Phagwara Bus stand earlier. But because of the congestion and the rush in his shop, he used to face a lot of problems and decided to move. He got himself a bigger shop at Banga road, and employed 15-20 workers.
He has been selling ladies suits at a discount for some time and had been seeing huge crowds at his shop, sources in the police said, adding that in the Covid lockdown period, he had announced a similar sale and seen a massive crowd who flouted all Covid-related norms in place.
The police later decided to book him and lodged an FIR, which they mentioned that Ashu had flouted disaster management norms during the ongoing pandemic. A case was registered under the Disaster Management Act.
Station House Officer of Phagwara City Police Station, Inspector Surjit Singh, informed that during the earlier Covid lockdown, too, Ashu had announced two sales and had been booked. “He is out on bail in those cases. On Wednesday, the rush of buyers at his shop was so massive that even he couldn’t manage the crowd,” said the SHO.
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