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Cracker shock before Diwali
- Shopkeepers without licence keep shutters down

Patna, Oct. 19: The crackdown of the district administration on cracker-sellers could take the sheen off the festival of lights this year, as the revellers are finding it tough to buy sparklers.

Several people returned empty-handed today from the hub of cracker business — the 2km-stretch in Patna City from Paschim Darwaja to Chowk housing around 200 cracker shops on either side of a congested road — as all of them were closed.

Last week, district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Singh announced that traders without licence to sell the crackers would not be allowed to open their shops. As the licences of most of the cracker-sellers at the Patna City area expired several years ago and only a few applied for renewal, the shutters of the outlets were down.

Disappointed over not getting crackers, Rahul Kumar, a resident of the city, said: “I wanted to buy crackers in advance to avoid the rush on the eve of Diwali. But all the shops are closed and I really do not know when they will open. The administration must give some alternative to the shop owners to sell crackers. Else, how we will enjoy the festival of lights this year?”

Not just the revellers, the retail cracker-sellers are also feeling the pinch. Kamal Jeet, who came to Patna City from Sasaram to purchase crackers, said: “Every year I come to this place to buy crackers in bulk as I put up a small stall in Sasaram. The price of crackers is less here compared to other places. Discounts are given against bulk purchase.”

Till last year, cracker stalls used to come up in every nook and corner of the 2km-stretch of Patna City 15 to 20 days before Diwali. But not a single outlet could be seen this season after the DM ordered that nobody without licence would be allowed to sell crackers.

The directive issued by the DM stated that licence for selling crackers would be issued to only those given licence last year. No new vendor would be provided licence this year, it read. The order was issued taking into count the security and traffic issues.

Expressing disappointment over the order, Vicky Kumar, a shopkeeper of the Khajekala area of Patna City, said: “Our business has been affected big time this year following the order from the DM. We have been selling crackers without licence over the past several years and never thought the administration would become so active. Cops are inspecting the area every two hours. If we open our shops, all our crackers will be seized.”

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