In the aftermath of the sealing drive in Mayapuri Industrial Area Phase II, which left 14 people injured following a violent clash between security forces and traders, workers from the scrap market have called for a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections in protest.
The drive was carried out on the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Between 9 am and 3 pm on Saturday, 12 of the 312 units in the area, which has a sizeable Sikh population, were sealed.
Delhi Police are still trying to piece together the sequence of events leading to the violence. “We have not made any arrests in the case so far,” said DCP (West) Monika Bhardwaj. On Sunday, meetings were held with local police stations to decide a strategy to deal with any protest that takes place when sealing commences.
According to around 60 traders and workers The Indian Express spoke to, the lathi charge on members of the Sikh community on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre had especially inflamed passion.
“There have been raids in the past. Last month, authorities seized several hundred tonnes of scrap. Nobody objected. But why beat us… do they have no shame? Many of us will not be voting this election. Clearly no party can save us from sealing,” said Gurpreet Singh (36), a motor parts trader.
The Mayapuri Traders Welfare Association, however, has not formally endorsed the boycott and are waiting for relief from the NGT. If all measures fail, they are considering moving the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has appealed to people in the West Delhi Constituency to vote. “I appeal to everyone from Mayapuri Industrial Area to not waste their vote…. boycotting the election is not the solution,” said DSGMC member Inderjeet Singh Monty, who is also part of the Delhi Minorities Commission.
According to members from the Mayapuri Association and the DSGMC, the traders live in West Delhi’s Tilak Nagar, Rajouri Garden and Janakpuri localities. Most of them moved here during the Partition and set up motor vehicle parts shops in Motia Khan until they were asked to shift to Mayapuri Industrial Area in 1975.
“There are over 50,000 voters from these areas; many of their families work in the Industrial Area. The call to boycott will be problematic…,” Monty said.
Traders, meanwhile, claimed there was lack of clarity on the sealing and needed time to move out scrap worth several tonnes — though the NGT had ordered all illegal and unauthorised polluting scrap industries to be shut in 2015.
On Sunday, many traders spent Baisakhi supervising labourers hauling rusted engine parts onto trucks. Fearing their shops will be next, many are selling their heavy machine parts for half the price. “I have struck a deal with a factory owner in Punjab. I am losing money… but I’m just being prepared,” said Diljeet, a trader.