Scores of traders in Delhi's bustling Chandni Chowk area took out a march on Friday opposing the Delhi Rent Control Act, fearing eviction of "more than 10,000 shops".
During their 'Aakrosh Rally', the traders alleged that 70 years of their businesses were negated within a matter of a few months by the "unconstitutional Rent Control Act" due to which around 50,000 persons were rendered unemployed.
"More than 10,000 'pagdi' shops in Chandni Chowk area are being evicted by land mafia and local politicians through false cases. The livelihood of over 50 lakh is under threat. This is a completely unconstitutional drive to get vacated more than 5 lakh 'pagdi' tenants of Delhi," Convenor of Rajdhani Pagdi Kiraya Sanghthan Ram Bhakt Aggarwal told IANS.
"It is an attempt to destroy the livelihood of lakhs to benefit a few people and this is happening in various heritage markets of Delhi like Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Gandhi Nagar and Karol Bagh, among others," Aggarwal said.
"Recently 5 lakh shops were asked to vacate using the law where most of the shops are less than 20 square feet and are being run by small traders like pan-walas, mithai-walas, grocery shops, tea stalls etc. in various markets of Delhi," he added.
The traders raised their voice against the Rent Control Act and demanded that the government bring an amendment immediately to save the livelihoods of the people affected by it.
During their march, which was organised by Chandni Chowk Zila Vyapar Sangh, they also symbolically carried a 'Funeral March' and burned an effigy symbolising the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.
The act, amended in 2008, stipulates that a landlord can ask the tenant to leave the property after having expressed a need for the premises.
A clause in Article 14 of the said act allows the landlord to press for eviction when the "premises let for residential purpose are required bona-fide by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any member of his family dependent on him".