Three women entrepreneurs from the city, who are participating in the ongoing India International Trade Fair in New Delhi, have alleged thefts at their stalls. While an NRI woman alleged that her bag with Rs 2.5 lakh was stolen, others said that miscreants lifted items lying in their stalls.
For the two-week-long trade fair in Pragati Maidan, which is based on the theme of ‘women entrepreneurship’ this year, the administration had selected four women to exhibit their handicrafts at the Chandigarh pavilion. None of them expected that their wares will be pilfered by visitors. “One of the incidents was captured on a CCTV camera. It shows two groups of people staging a quarrel to divert attention of everyone, while an elderly man quietly steals two items from a stall. Thieves this year are using diverse tactics,” said an administration official.
Leena Singh, who sells statues and other brass items, said, “The incident at my stall was also captured on the CCTV. A decent-looking family arrived, and the woman engaged the salesman in conversation while her husband and son sneaked five items.”
She alleged that the family took away statues costing more than Rs 80,000. “We informed the organisers and also complained to the police, but there has been no headway so far,” she said.
Hamina Kang, who sells paintings and imitation jewellery, said that she had such a bad experience that she would never come back to the fair. “Somebody stole my bag containing Rs. 2.5 lakh from the stall. I’ve been in a shock ever since. In fact, I’m not selling jewellery items any more,” she said.
Officials, however, doubted her claims. “No way somebody would carry such a large amount of money. She is surely exaggerating the amount. These people are playing such tactics as they could not make profits and want the administration to compensate for items which may not have been stolen after all,” said an official. The women alleged that the administration did not place the CCTVs on the right spots. They also alleged that the administration did not help them once the incidents came to light.
Alice Arora, who sells dress materials, said that five suits and a phulkari dupatta worth about Rs 35,000 went missing from her stall. However, she said that the administration had provided them with adequate facilities and she was satisfied with the arrangement.
Officials said that they had deputed security guards who kept a watch on the wares at night but during the day, when thousands of visitors streamed in, it was not possible to keep a tab. “The stall owners should have been alert as such incidents are common during fairs. In fact, Leena decided to place her statues outside the stalls which is not even allowed,” said an official.
The officials said that the Delhi police rounded up a gang of pick-pockets in the trade fair and it is being verified whether they were involved in any of the incidents in the Chandigarh pavilion.