Traders Threaten Massive Strike If Lockdown Rules Are Not Removed For Malls, Non-Essential Shops
The Federations of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM), an umbrella organisation with over 750 trade associations and over 20,00,000 small businesses as members, has given Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray a 24-hour deadline to open non-essential shops in the state.
Since Monday night, Maharashtra has been on a near-lockdown, except for transportation and critical services, in which all non-essential stores, markets, and malls have been asked to close until April 30th.
Medical stores, shops selling vegetables, groceries, dairies, among other essential service providers, are allowed to function.
The Federation Of Association Of Maharashtra (FAM)
A-body of traders, merchants, entrepreneurs and businessmen – has said that the latest measure will impact them badly. According to FAM president Vinesh Mehta, they are still unable to recover from the losses incurred by the lockdown last year, and the Maharashtra government has now implemented these harsh measures.
Vinesh Mehta, President, FAM, said, “We were just coming out of the setbacks post the lockdown imposed last year and these new restrictions will now kill business.”
FAM has agreed that if the CM does not comply with their 24-hour deadline, the traders will march to their shops wearing black bands and masks on Thursday afternoon. This will act as a further cautionary note to the government system.
“Traders have to pay salaries, taxes, GST, rent, where will the money come from? We will intensify our protest if the government doesn’t pay heed to our protest,” Jitendra Shah, Vice President FAM added.
In a press conference on Tuesday, MNS chief Raj Thackeray said he had proposed reduced hours or a 2-3-day-a-week schedule for such non-essential shops, adding that small business owners would be unable to withstand more losses.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also wrote to the Chief Minister suggested that this was just a lockdown with a different name and hence the notification should be withdrawn.
“If this continues, we won’t have any option left but to commit suicide,” Mehta exclaimed.
Many shopkeepers and traders protested the state government’s new restriction on Tuesday across Maharashtra, claiming that the move would seriously harm small businesses amid the pandemic.
If the Thursday protest fails to produce results, the trader group has agreed to launch a non-cooperation campaign, in which stores will remain open in defiance and traders will refuse to pay taxes. Traders say they have spoken to the Finance Minister as well as some MLAs, but have yet to receive a positive response.
Protests were held in Nagpur and Satara on the first day of the shutdown. People in the Mumbai market areas were confused as few shops were open. Some people mistook the restrictions as only being in effect on weekends.
Traders gathered in the Borivali and Bhendi Bazaar areas of south Mumbai, shouting slogans and carrying placards to protest the lockdown, according to the police. Such stores were eventually shut down by the police.