Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area, which had become the hub of protests against CAA and NRC, finally gets to see some economic activity after five long months. First, it was the protest which forced them to shut shop and then it was lockdown. Though in Lockdown 4.0 they have been able to open shop, their search for elusive customer continues.
For shopkeepers of this otherwise very crowded area, their losses run in several crores of rupees with no respite in sight. Shopkeeper Mohammad Ansar, owner of a showroom of Raymond Company at the Shaheen Bagh market, said, “In these 5 months our businesses are almost over. The shops are now opening on the basis of odd-even as was announced by the Delhi government.
The cost of keeping the shop closed was low, but now the expenses after opening the shop have increased. I have been opening my shop for four days in a row, but I have not earned a penny.” “Not only the customer, even the staff working in the shops are gone” he added. During the month of Ramzan, sales and ensuing profits surge, as the market, bustles with the customers shopping for Eid.
However, this year it is different, the pandemic has struck at the time of the peak season. Mohammad Rayees, another shopkeeper from the market, said: “There are more than 150 shops in the market and everyone’s daily income was about Rs 75,000. But now after five months, the losses are so catastrophic that we are even struggling to manage domestic expenses at home. Despite the Eid season, there is hardly any customer.” R.P. Meena, DCP, SouthEast Delhi, told The Daily Guardian, “We have asked the shops to open on odd and even days as per the guidelines of the Delhi government.
According to the guideline, marking of the shops at the local level has been done. Moreover, precautionary guidelines have been dispensed to all the showroom owners and shopkeepers. Shops will remain open from 7 am to 7 pm during Eid too. For further caution, we are monitoring the entire area through drone cameras as well.” There are about 150 shops in this market of Shaheen Bagh, wherein about two thousand employees work, out of which only 30% of the staff is left. Following the Delhi government’s order, shops are opening in this market on an odd-even basis. To maintain social distance, shopkeepers have also put a mark.