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New Market shop in CMC licence feud

Shutdown in New Market after the civic authorities sealed a disputed shop on Wednesday. (Bibhash Lodh)

Most of old New Market stayed closed in protest till Wednesday afternoon after the civic body sealed one of the shops in the morning.

The shops opened in the evening following a meeting between the traders and senior officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

Sources in the CMC said a garment shop in Phase-II of the market was sealed because the licensed shopowner had died and his son, Asraf Ali, has been running the establishment for the past year without the mandatory document.

“The licence-holder’s will apparently mentions the name of the inheritor of the shop,” said a CMC official.

The official said the father’s will was not enough for Asraf to run the shop because “a will can be made only if someone owns the property”.

All the shopowners in New Market are licensees with no permanent claim to the property. “The CMC owns these shops and issues licences to the traders on payment of a fee,” said the official.

Asraf has been insisting that his father’s will made him the owner of the shop.

But the legal wing of the CMC said a will couldn’t be accepted as proof of inheritance because traders don’t own the shops. “Besides, Asraf’s brother had sent us a letter objecting to the will,” a senior official said.

Sources in the CMC said they had tried to solve the dispute through regular meetings with the two brothers over the past year. “There is a process for inheriting the shop. The family must write that they have no objection to Asraf getting the licence for the shop. They have to apply.”

“An association of New Market traders on Wednesday promised to see to it that the brothers solve their dispute within 90 days. Hence, we unsealed the shop,” the official said.