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Black badges, dharna against market ouster

Over 200 shopkeepers of Purana Bazaar area in Dhanbad have decided to launch a series of agitations from Wednesday against the ongoing eviction drive to remove their business establishments.

The shops, which have been constructed illegally on railway land, are being razed in phases since Friday for constructing an approach road to the upcoming Dhanbad station annexe.

The decision to hit the protest path was taken in a three-hour-long meeting near the Purana Bazar railway crossing on Monday.

President of Purana Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ajay Narayan Lal presided over the meeting, which was called to chalk out their future course of action against the railway authorities. Federation of Dhanbad Zilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Rajesh Kumar Gupta was also present among others.

“We unanimously decided to strongly oppose the move to convert Purana Bazar into a link between Joraphatak Road and the approach way to the new southern complex of Dhanbad station,” Lal said.

The shopkeepers, who submitted a memorandum to Dhanbad DC Prashant Kumar on January 13, will wear black badges on Wednesday as a mark of protest. This will be followed by daily demonstrations, which will finally culminate in a dharna-cum-public meeting near Ratneshwar Mandir on January 29, where shopkeepers will mobilise support for themselves.

According to the traders, the approach road could be built without evicting them.

“We welcome the move of Dhanbad railway division to develop the southern side of the station. But the approach road can come on the vacant land adjacent to the tracks near DAV School grounds,” said vice-president of Purana Bazar Chamber of Commerce Mohammed Sohrab.

“If the railway administration can spend over Rs 4 crore on constructing a magnificent building, why can’t it spend Rs 5 lakh on constructing a new approach road without displacing the shopkeepers?” he further asked.