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Vendor mouse outplays cop cat in eviction game
- Hawkers back on pavements in Fancy Bazar four days after being driven out by GMC

Dec. 21: The mouse has outplayed the cat to seal its place once again with monotonous regularity, in Fancy Bazar, the region’s business hub.

Unauthorised vendors, who were evicted by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) amid much fanfare and media glare just four days back, are back to where they were.

They are on the streets, on the pavements and in every other conceivable place where they can spread their wares and do their trade much to the chagrin of the people visiting the market.

“It is a regular cat and mouse game played between the authorities and the unauthorised traders. It is amusing actually and every time the mouse has the last laugh,” Mainak Das, an employee of a garment shop, said about the last eviction drive, as he watched the pre-Christmas shopping chaos and pandemonium with a bemused smile on his lips.

On December 17, GMC had carried out an eviction of the roadside vendors at certain areas of Fancy Bazar in SS Road, HB Road and SRCB Road.

GMC commissioner Puru Gupta said, “It’s very difficult to manage so many areas, when the vendors come back. So, we are now devising a new strategy to put a stop to this cat and mouse game.”

A roadside vendor of SS Road at Fancy Bazar area, Pradip Boni, has so far experienced six eviction drives, but nothing changed.

In fact, according to Boni, the number of vendors has instead only gone up.

“It is a common thing here. Eviction drives are carried out at Fancy Bazar at least thrice every year. Currently, there are around 50 roadside vendors alone in one half of the SS Road towards MG Road. The number was not the same a few years back. This time I came back after two days,” he said.

“If they have an issue with us selling on the roads and pavements, why can’t they give us a suitable place where we can shift?” asked M.K. Das, a vendor at SS Road.

Selling clothes for the past 40 years, Das said, “We are breaking the law, but we have no other option. Whenever an eviction happens, we pack our items and carry it to wherever possible and after analysing the gravity of the situation, we make our comeback.”

Though eviction is not a very big loss for Das and Boni, for Rajesh Kumar, a vegetable vendor, it is.

The fruit and vegetable vendors have to bear heavy losses as their items rot, unlike clothes or other articles with a longer shelf life.

Kumar who has been selling vegetables in the Gelapatti area of Fancy Bazar for the past decade, said, “We always come back. So, I don’t understand what the point is in taking up so much trouble to evict us from these areas. However, since we return after two-three days, our items rot in the interregnum. This time I incurred a loss of Rs 1,700.”


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