Friday, January 01, 2010

Patna police uprooting Muslim traders selling cane-made items, govt. silent


Abdul Jalil (30) has been selling cane chairs and sofas made with cane in his open-air shop near Gandhi Maidan in Patna for years. Himself an expert in making cane-made items, Jalil has 10 employees to meet the demand for his items. His father has been doing this business for the last 40 years and following into his footsteps, Abdul Jalil along with his three brothers adopted the same trade.

He originally hails from Gaya district in Bihar but lives with his family in Phulwari Shareef area in Patna – the capital city. He has been able to earn Rs.10000-15000 per month which, according to him, goes up to 20000 in season such as in January-February in which demand for the products increases.

Abdul Jalil says their sofas and other cane items are bought not only by the people in the state but they are also transported to other parts of the country. Thus they were able to get better income.

Jalil is not alone in the trade in that area. In fact, there are several dozens of businessmen – almost all of them Muslims – who are involved in the trade and running shops like Jalil’s. Everything was going fine for them till a few weeks ago. But now they are much worried about their future.

About one month ago – all of a sudden, without giving any notice – the Patna Police forcibly stopped them from selling their goods at that place where they have been for decades, without giving them any alternate place. This ‘anti-encroachment’ or ‘city beautification’ drive has snatched the livelihood of hundreds of people.

“For the last one month the local police are not permitting us to open our shops. Police come here many times in a day and if they find any sofa at roadside, they beat the owner and also take the sofa with them. There is no surety that the owner will get back the item from the police station. Thus they lose at least Rs. 5000 which is a big loss for people like us. Therefore, we are frightened and put our goods inside the streets,” Abdul Jalil told.

It is not only Abdul Jalil but there are many shopkeepers who told the same tale. They have been putting their shops everyday at roadside to sell the cane items. They buy cane from the market and made different types of beautiful pieces of furniture like sofas, chairs and tables. Some of them make these items at their homes and put here for sale while some others prepare it here itself.
Mashooq Alam, another sofa-maker and lone bread earner for his family, said: “I am doing this business for the last 18 years. I learnt it from my late father. My three children are pursuing education in schools and I have been fulfilling their needs from this business. But now it is getting difficult as police disturb us every day. They stopped us from opening our shops at the place where we have been doing the business for decades but they are not giving us any alternate place for our business.”

25-year-old Muzaffar Alam also seemed somehow worried. He said that just two years ago he started this business and was happy with it but now he is getting nervous as he has little saving to set up his shop in a new place as police is not allowing him to do the business here.
While we were talking to them, a police jeep arrived and traders got frightened. Some of them fled the scene leaving their shops at the mercy of the policemen. Some of them later said that though their shops were inside the street they feared the police would beat them.

Whether the government will provide these traders with any alternative or just continue letting the police terrify them – and make money in the process – is to be seen.

Report by:
Mudassir Rizwan
Patna, Bihar, India

1 comment:

  1. Encroachment and removal of the same is all India phenomena. It is a global and common place occurance. Atleast Abdul Jalil ji should be obliged to the govt. that he continued this business in an illegimized fashion for long and prefected in this craftmanship. By mere doing anything from longer periods does not empower anybody on the earth to declare it legal. Of course earning a livelyhood is more important for affected people than beutifying Patna.

    The most objectionable part of the report is its heading. It reflects as he was victimized on the ground of being a muslim. Also community of hundreds of other encroacher is not revealed. Reporter may write in way he wants, but it is the bounden duty of moderators to edit it and save it from being maligned.
    I take your site's report seriously appreciate your team's effort.

    M K Mishra
    Freelance journalist
    (Former Secretary of Press Alliance, Delhi)


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