The traders' body CAIT (Confederation of All India Traders) has received widespread support from several states on its call to organise a nationwide Bharat Bandh against the US retail giant Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart for $16 billion. The umbrella body of traders organised a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Friday. CAIT is also protesting against foreign direct investment in retail, and "continuous sealing" of shops in Delhi. The traders' body said many employees working in these shops are on the verge of "starvation". The RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has also joined CAIT in its protest.
Besides, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists is also organising a nationwide strike to protest the Centre government's approval for the online sale of medicines.
Earlier in a statement, CAIT said all major areas of Delhi, including Connaught Place, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Bhagirath Place, Sadar Bazar, Karol Bagh, South Extension, Lajpat Nagar, etc, will remain closed to protest the government's approval of the Flipkart's merger with the US behemoth, and sealing of shops in Delhi.
Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of CAIT, said: "The Delhi traders are suffering due to the sealing of shops, and the monitoring committee is sealing shops as per its own wishes, disregarding the provisions of MCD Act." He said the move has affected trade in Delhi, and rendered many people jobless.
Khandelwal said the government should bring an ordinance to provide relief to traders from sealing with an amnesty scheme. "The sealed shops should be de-sealed immediately," he said. The body is also expected to submit a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri and Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal for demanding immediate promulgation of an ordinance.
Meanwhile, the druggists' association said they could resort to an indefinite strike if their demands are not met. "The AIOCD has already observed two Bharat Bandhs earlier," Sandeep Nangia, the Organising Secretary of AIOCD and the chief of the Retail Distributors Chemists Association, told PTI. "If the appeal does not get a positive response from the government, we will not have any other option than to call for a nationwide indefinite agitation," he said.
Reports suggest the strike got full response across Punjab and Bihar, and parts of Maharashtra. "We are participating in the nationwide protest on September 28 on the issue of e-pharmacies," Maharashtra Registered Pharmacist Association President Kailash Tandale told the Asian Age. He added that however, many shops will remain "open in various areas so that the strike does not inconvenience the common people."
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare plans to regulate regular online sale of drugs by e-pharmacies through a set of draft rules. The draft says anyone selling drugs online will have to register with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and will also have to obtain a trader's licence. The rules also bar them from selling psychotropic drugs, narcotics and tranquilisers.
Edited by Manoj Sharma