Hawkers, however, protest that even tribals hawking in the area should be met with similar treatment; raid later called off to avoid any law-and-order situation
Shillong: Chaos reigned at Shillong market in Meghalaya as an enforcement team from the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) carried out an inspection of trading licences of non-tribals hawking in areas under the council’s jurisdiction in the state capital.
Anjalee, Motphran, Bimola and several other areas were in for a surprise when an enforcement team led by Albert Lanong carried out the raid. Protesting the move, non-tribals claimed that if they were being evicted then even the tribals hawking in the areas should be evicted.
“How am I going to feed my children if they are going to evict us like this, this is my bread and butter,” a non-tribal vendor said during the raid.
While addressing the media, Lanong said, “There was no seizure of things, the aim of this checking was to prevent non-tribals hawking on areas under our jurisdiction. But what was seen today was after the non-tribals were evacuated, instead our locals are seen sitting there. The main intention of this checking was to act on the complaints from passers-by not being able to walk as hawkers have obstructed the footpath.”
The team was accompanied by police officials to avoid any clash. According to the council, they have been successful in evicting non-tribals from hawking at restricted places.
The executive member (in-charge of trade), KHADC, Paul Lyngdoh said, “The council will act according to the source of law and will not act beyond that. The source of law according to which this drive was carried out today against vending by non-tribals falls under our authority, Trading by Non-Tribals Act 1954 as amended in 2019. That being the mandate of the council whereas acting on tribals hawking on these areas falls under the state government’s responsibility where Acts like eviction from public premises 1980 exist.”
Meanwhile, the raid was called off due to lack of police force to take stock of the situation. Lyngdoh during the briefing also urged that this raid can only be successful with the police department working hand-in-hand with the council.
“We had called off this raid as we did not want it to be a breach of peace that will create any chaos in the capital and we want to avoid any cases like what has happened in the past. And due to the lack of backup from the police department, the job of officers and staffs of the enforcement wing of the KHADC will be disrupted. Hence we require full support of the police department,” added Lyngdoh.
Concerning tribals hawking at areas where non-tribals were evicted, Lyngdoh said that it was the responsibility of the government to act on that.
On October 4, hawkers were instructed to register themselves and ensure that they had a trading licence. “If the trader had the licence we would consider the trader ensuring that he does not obstruct footpaths and not to create any unhygienic situation. So our Act is carried out under these parameters,” said Lyngdoh.
Lyngdoh also added that this action to free public spaces can only be achieved with the help of the state government and cannot be done individually by the council.
During this raid carried out, arguments erupted between a non-tribal hawker with another local hawker. In order to avoid any confusion, the hawker was taken to Sadar Police Station and was later released.