Ever since Meena Bazaar was dismantled earlier this month, vendors from the area have been agitating against the eviction, which they claim goes against a 2015 High Court stay order.
On September 16, the North MCD and Delhi Police had removed around 200 vendors from the area, as part of a larger city-wide drive to remove “encroachers”, including at Darya Ganj book market, Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk. DCP (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said police had “accompanied the civic body for the demolition”.
Vendors, though, said the move caught them off guard. “They came at 1.30 pm with bulldozers, and it went on till 4-4.30 pm,” said Abdul Aziz (42) president of the Jama Masjid Rehdi Patri Nagar Association and member of the Town Vending Committee since 2018. “We tried telling them there is a High Court stay order from 2015 against our eviction.”
In August 2014, too, Meena Bazaar was dismantled without prior notice. After appealing to the High Court, a stay order was passed on January 15, 2015, which directed authorities to not evict vendors until a survey is undertaken by the Town Vending Committee.
North MCD deputy commissioner Vedika Reddy, however, said, “Many orders have been passed since the 2015 stay, which we have interpreted together before taking this decision.”
Sandeep Verma, a member of National Hawkers Federation, said, “In the final judgment of many of these orders, the court has sided with the vendors.”
The Delhi government also announced last week that 28 Town Vending Committees would be notified in Delhi as per the Street Vendors Act, 2014, and a city-wide survey of vendors would be undertaken. The Chief Minister also dissuaded civic bodies from displacing street vendors.
Aziz, however, said that before the survey is done, vendors should be allowed to return to their original spots so they are not deprived of a livelihood.
Nasreen (37) who sold shirts in the area, said, “They have uprooted us; what do we do from here? Will we now have to go on the roads and start begging?”
“Vendors are not encroachers, which the 2014 Act clearly states. They are a separate economic ecosystem,” said Verma. “The Act provides for a procedure so that vendors have a say, through the TVC, of overseeing the matter.”