Hawkers burn Modi’s effigy in Kolkata

Kolkata, Nov 24 (IANS) Complaining that their business has declined by 75 per cent across the nation due to an acute cash crunch post demonetisation, hawkers on Thursday burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hundreds participated in a rally brought out by the ‘Hawker Sangram Committee’, the West Bengal wing of National Hawkers Federation, from Subodh Mullick Square in central Kolkata to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation headquarters.

“The hawkers’ business that had a daily turnover of nearly Rs 8,000 crore in the country has come down to Rs 2,000 crore after demonetisation. More than 60 people have died throughout the nation. We strongly oppose this attempt to destroy the nations economy in the name of recovering black money,”said Saktiman Ghosh, Hawker Sangram Committee general secretary.

The rally, an annual event to protest against the ‘Operation Sunshine’, a hawker evacuation drive in the city 20 years ago undertaken by the then Left Front government, had added significance this year due to the demonetisation, which has hit hard the unorganised business sector.

The participants carried black flags and posters decrying the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and large banners condemning the Operation Sunshine that had taken the lives of 18 hawkers.

Raising slogans against Modi, they burnt his effigy, describing his November 8 demonetisation announcement as a conspiracy to promote online business.

“Prime Minister’s decision is a conspiracy to promote online business and demolish the poor working class. More than 50 percent of the street vendors in India do not have bank accounts. They need the supply of hard cash for daily transactions,” Ghosh complained.

A 14 member delegation of hawkers met state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim after the rally with demands to resolve the cash problem.

“We will inform the minister about the problems our hawkers are facing for the lack of smaller denomination notes. We will also demand the implementation of Central Street Vendor Act and hawkers’ rehabilitation,” Ghosh said.