200 shops sealed in Gurugram; shopkeepers up in arms

The shopkeepers, however, alleged that the drive was meant to extort money

Sanjay Yadav

Gurugram, July 16

High drama prevailed at Sadar Bazar, Gurugram, on Thursday as the Municipal Corporation went on to seal around 200 shops for encroachments.

Shopkeepers protest at Sadar bazar on Thursday morning against the administration on sealing of shops, in old Gurugram on Thursday, July 16, 2020. Tribune Photos: S Chandan

The shopkeepers, who had arrived to open shops in the morning, were in for a shock when they found their shops had been sealed and an MCG notice was pasted on the shutters. The notice held shops guilty of nurturing temporary encroachments and not getting rid of them despite repeated warnings and public announcements.

Refuting the allegations and refusing to pay fine, the shopkeepers staged a protest and demanded MLA Sudhir Singla to step in and intervene.

“These shopkeepers have a host of squatters and ‘rehriwalas’ in front of their shops on a rental basis. This has made Sadar Bazar non-commutable and congested. In case of an emergency, fire brigade or an ambulance cannot get tough. In the current COVID-19 times, this has thrown social-distancing at a toss and has converted the market into an infection hotbed. We had been issuing warnings since a week and the videography was done to identify the accused,” said Joint Commissioner Gaurav Antil, who spearheaded the move.

The shopkeepers, however, alleged that the drive was meant to extort money. They alleged that they had got a call at night by some people saying they had video shot encroachments in front of their shops and were seeking money to delete those videos.

“They have hired bouncers who make fake videos and seek money. We will not accept this and pay any fine. We are already undergoing an economic crisis and such an act to mint money by the MCG is unacceptable. We have approached the MLA to intervene,” said an office-bearer of the market association.

The MCG has reduced the fine rate from Rs 3,000 to Rs 2,000 owing to the economic slump but has refused to de-seal the shops.

“Encroachment is an illegal and punishable offence. This law is not new and well-known to all, so there is no justification. Encroachment has emerged as the biggest civic issue in the city that triggers other problems as well. We, at MCG, have a zero-tolerance to the same. All allegations towards us are baseless. We have been making public announcements warning of sealing but they are not ready to listen. This problem will be dealt as per the law,” said MCG Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh.

A protest was on throwing social distancing to toss till filing of the report.

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