Part 4 : Desperate Vendors Commit Suicides in Protest
Desperate Vendors Commit Suicides in Protest The country over vendors are fighting desperate battles to get the new policy for vendors implemented in their respective towns and cities. Instead, Clearance Operations continue unabated. As a result, several vendors have committed suicide in full public view. Many more have died silent deaths due to malnutrition and disease since their livelihoods are destroyed. Gopal Krishna Kashyap in flames
Kashyap had been unemployed for 14 months when on 18th January 2006 he wrote to Sonia Gandhi explaining how the market where he and others used to ply their trade had been removed n the pretext of beautifying the city for the Indo-Pak Games. He warned that if the promised alternative sites were not given to them, he would commit suicide on 24th January at 3pm. The Government did keep its promise, but he kept his word by setting himself on fire outside the municipal office on the promised time and date. He died the same day of severe burns. For details see article “ Destroying Swadeshi Retail Sector to Make Way for Videshi Retailers?” in issue No. 153 of Manushi at www.manushi-india.org Gopal Krishna Kashyap was the leader of a group of about 15 rehrivalas selling parathas in Patiala. He was an active member of the Congress Party – in fact the vendors association he ran was called the Rajiv Gandhi Prontha Rehri Market. Patiala’s Paranthawala Immolates Himself
Pappu Rathore was not a leader, nor did he want radical political changes. All he wanted was a few feet of space to earn his living as a fruit vendor. He had shared a stall with his brother outside a hospital in Gwalior for thirteen years until the municipal authorities decided to remove all the vending stalls. No alternative was offered, and whenever they tried to set up their stall they were chased away. On 28th January 2006, Pappu’s desperation became too much, and he burnt himself to death in the very place where his stall had once stood . One of his brothers had committed suicide in a similar fashion over the same issue. Today Pappu Rathore’s old mother is fighting a desperate battle in Gwalior for a vending spot since the family has no other means of income. Self Immolation of Pappu Rathore Pappu Yadav in the Burns ward of Gwalior Hospital Mother of Pappu Yadav who in the family’s battle for several. A documentary film on this family’s battles for survival entitled Pappu ki Maa , is available from Manushi
Abdul Rafeeq Khan was a street vendor and a prominent member of his local community. He was known amongst his friends and family for his dedication to the Samajwadi Party. It was his commitment and passion for politics that led him to the leadership of the Saptahik Bazar Evam Dukanar Samiti (BEDS) vendors association. Vendor Rafiq Seen Burning in the Municipal Corporation office in Lucknow When the Lucknow municipality decided to franchise out the collection of tehbazari , there were strong fears amongst the vendors that they would be forced to pay higher rates or face eviction. The news that the franchise was sold to don-turned-politician Brijendra Murari Yadav, prompted Rafeeq to begin a peaceful vigil outside the office of the Lucknow Nagar Nigam. After forty patient days, he declared that he would immolate himself if no redressal was provided by 6 pm that day. When none was forthcoming, Rafeeq set himself on fire. He died the same day, 11th May 2005, suffering from 90% burns. Rafiq’s burnt body being carried to hospital
On July 30 th 2007 eleven handicapped vendors of Varanasi consumed poison to protest the removal of their kiosks under the guise of beautification drive. Five of them died the next day. Others are battling for their lives in hospital. Many more street vendors all over the country are dying silent deaths, due to malnutrition, disease and hunger because their livelihoods have been likewise snatched. (A film on vendors’ sucides in Gwalior, Patiala and Lukhnow is available in DVD format from Manushi at Rs 200. Payment details are available at www.manushi-india.org) Mass Suicides in Varanasi
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