Singhu border protest spells trouble, losses for shopkeepers, commuters
Farmers have been sitting at Delhi's Singhu border for over 10 months, blocking the highway, protesting against the government's agricultural laws. While the blockade has left many commuters high and dry, shopkeepers around the border fumed that they are also incurring heavy losses. Meanwhile, the farmers argued that it is the authorities who have barricaded the roads to keep the protesters from entering Delhi.
'Don't know how I'll feed my family'
Speaking to The Times of India, Niranjan Singh, a laborer at a steel and stone shop at Singhu border, lamented that his earnings have decreased manifold due to the farmers' protest. Singh said he used to earn Rs. 500-1,000 daily earlier, but his daily earnings have Rs. 100-200. "I don't know how I will feed my family if this continues," he said.
Shopkeepers also facing the brunt
Like daily wage laborers, shopkeepers, too, are incurring heavy losses due to the ongoing protests at the Singhu border. Walder Nadeem, a local shopkeeper, said there is no work left due to the protests. "I was getting Rs. 18,000 a month earlier...Now, I don't get customers for even a week at a stretch." Big businesses at the locality also claimed heavy losses.
Businesses claimed losses in crores
Big businesses in the locality, such as showrooms, factories, and petrol pumps, claimed their losses have been in crores since the protests started. A showroom owner of branded clothes at the Singhu border claimed losses of Rs. 1 crore. They had to lay off five to seven employees and cut salaries by 30-40% because their sales were severely hit, TOI reported.
'Business down Rs. 35,000 from normal every day'
Separately, a petrol pump owner told TOI that he had suffered losses of Rs. 1.5 crore in the past few months. "Business is down Rs. 35,000 from normal every day," he said, adding that people cannot drive to the petrol pump due to traffic snarls.
Nearby mall deserted; shipping cost of factories increasing
Factory owners at the Singhu border told TOI that their shipping costs have increased due to the protests, resulting in massive losses. "Small trucks that charged Rs. 500 for delivery services today ask for Rs. 3,000 for the same work," a factory owner said. A nearby mall has been deserted. Its parking lot is reportedly being used by protesters to wash clothes and utensils.
Highways cannot be blocked perpetually: SC this week
The Supreme Court on Thursday reiterated its objection to highways being blocked as part of protests while hearing arguments against the farmers' months-long agitation along Delhi's borders. The SC also remarked that "highways cannot be blocked perpetually." "Redressal can be through judicial forum agitation or Parliamentary debates, but how can highways be blocked? And this cannot be a perpetual problem," the SC had said.
Police put up barricades, we never blocked road: Farmers
Meanwhile, protesting farmers argued that Delhi Police didn't allow them to enter the city, forcing them to sit in at the border. "We have never blocked the road...It was the police that put up the barricades," a protesting farmer told TOI. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the farmers' organization spearheading the protest, blamed the Centre for not accepting the protesters' demands.
'We wanted to shift to Ramlila Ground, police stopped us'
The protesters wished to shift to Delhi's Ramlila Ground. However, the Delhi Police blocked them at the borders. An SKM member said, "The central government knows the protest can be resolved if it accepts the legitimate demands of farmers. But it has chosen not to..."
Farmers have been protesting for 10 months at Delhi's borders
It has been 10 months since vexed farmers have been protesting against three contentious farm laws at the borders of Delhi, including the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border. The farmers are mainly demanding the repeal of the farm laws, which they think will take away the minimum support price for their crops. Despite several rounds of talks between the Centre and farmer leaders, resolution remains far-fetched.