Imphal street vendors threaten to commit ‘mass suicide’ if their demands are not met

Imphal: Street vendors of Imphal’s Khwairamband Keithel on Friday threatened to commit ‘mass suicide’ if they are not given vending space in Imphal market.

To ease traffic congestion on the streets in and around the Khwairamband Keithel located in the heart of Imphal, the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) provided their vending space at the ‘temporary market.’

As per an order of the IMC issued on October 16 last, street vendors are allowed to occupy the spaces on rotation basis.

However, due to alleged occupation of the spaces by some “powerful” vendors, many could not get their vending space.

Street vendors who were deprived of doing their business at the government provided space have been demanding to strictly implement the order issued by the IMC so that they can get their vending space in the said ‘temporary market.’

To address their plights, the vendors have been launching various forms of protest under the joint aegis of Khwairamband Keithel Street Vendors’ Welfare Union and Khwairamband Bazar Women Street Vendors.

Also read | Imphal street vendors demand for vending space

The two bodies today set December 13 as a deadline to the authority of the government to make arrangements for their vending space.

“If no positive response comes forth on or before December 13, we will intensify our agitations including committing mass suicide,” assistant general secretary Nandita Leimapokpam of Khwairamband Keithel Street Vendors’ Welfare Union threatened.

Addressing a press conference at Manipur Press Club in Imphal, she said that vendors who could not get their vending spaces at the ‘temporary market’ had raised the matter with the IMC authorities repeatedly.

They have also repeatedly brought up the matter with the higher authorities of the state government besides launching various forms of protests including sit-in-protest inside the IMC office complex.

The vendors have to suspend their agitations temporarily considering the recently concluded Manipur Sangai Festival and on the assurance given by the authorities to look into their plights after the festival.

More than a week has passed since the end of the festival but no step to address their plights taken up so far, she alleged.

Also read | Street vendors confront police against delayed temporary market inauguration

A notification issued by IMC on October 16 last permitted street vendors to sell their goods in the ‘temporary market’ area in two different shifts, from 6 am to noon and 1 am to 7pm every day.

The street vendors were allowed to occupy their space on a first come first serve basis while prohibiting them from vending their goods on the road side in and around the Khwairamband Keithel and Ima Keithel (all-women-run market).

However, most of the street vendors could not sell their goods at the government provided space near the ‘temporary market’.

According to Nandita, they could not get a space at the said place as some ‘powerful’ vendors occupy most parts of the space permanently.

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