Traders in Kumaon and Garhwal have intensified their agitation against the curfew induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which will be in force in the state till June 8, with the government yet to announce whether it will be extended or not.
Traders resorted to various modes of protests to raise their demand of opening up of markets and trade establishments which have been closed since implementation of the curfew in the last week of April.
State traders division (Chaudhary faction) offered milk to deity Ganga praying for wisdom for the state government for allowing shops of non-essential items also as Covid-19 cases have sharply dipped in the past few weeks.
“We want opening up of markets as well as the Char Dham pilgrimage as trade business of Haridwar revolves heavily on Char Dham pilgrimage from April to November which is the Char Dham season. We also demand an economic package for affected traders as due to the earlier lockdown and now the curfew there has been a severe impact on us,” said state traders division president Sanjeev Chaudhary.
Jan Vikas Kalyan Samiti president Kushal Pal Singh Saini demanded the opening up of markets on odd-even basis so that Covid-19 safety norms as well as the livelihood of traders can be ensured together. In Nainital district, traders held protests with black bands tied on their eyes. Some traders also burnt the effigy of the state government, demanding that they be allowed to open their shops.
Angry traders also warned of non-cooperation if the state government doesn’t approve of their demands.
Members of Devbhoomi Udyog Vyapar Mandal held protests at Patel Chowk market against the closure of markets by tying black bands on their eyes.
Hukum Singh Kunwar, president of Devbhoomi Udyog Vyapar Mandal said, “Due to closure of markets for the last one month, traders are on the verge of starvation. We are unable to pay our loan instalments, taxes, electricity bill, and salary of workers and so on.”
He said Covid-19 cases have sharply dipped in recent weeks but the government is continuing ahead with the curbs and restrictions, especially on traders.
Govind Bagadwal, city president of Devbhoomi Vyapar Mandal said, “If the government is not concerned about the trader community who have been cooperating with the government since the Covid-19 outbreak then it’s high time we stand together and protest and they too have to work for safeguarding our interests. No assurance of any financial package has been given to us so far by the state government. They have left us on our own and is not allowing us to open our shops.”