Millennium Post

Post demonetisation, puppeteers find it hard to make ends meet

Kathputli Colony, which has earned the moniker ‘Magician’s Ghetto’ for it’s eccentric inhabitants ranging from puppeteers to snake charmers, may have run out of it’s bag of tricks, as the cash crunch due to demonetisation has brought the community to a standstill. 

Many of the performers now are dependent on loans from fellow performers as they manage to survive one day at a time. 

“This is supposed to be the peak season for us. I used to make a lot of money in birthday parties, weddings and various other functions. After the scrapping of old notes, I have to wait for business to pick up,” said Bunty, a musician.

The inhabitants of the colony have claimed that they had stocked up on necessary goods for the peak season and now they regret the move. “I had bought a lot of toys this time around. My wife had warned me against it. I thought otherwise and now I have a lot of stock lying around. I don’t know what to do with it,” said Manish Rathore, a toy seller.

However, the  residents have always bloomed during the times of adversity earlier as well, as they used to find high paying assignments abroad. But this year around, many of them have reported a dip in business. 

“I have performed in the UK, US, Germany and other foreign countries. Of course we had to pay from our own pockets for the expenses but we got good money and respect in return. This time I had to cancel my trip to the UK due to cash crunch. I had to take care of my family,” said Ramesh Bhatt from the famous Bhatt family, known for pioneering the art of puppetry. 

To add insult to injury, the Delhi Police along with the DDA officials had stormed into the colony and allegedly coerced people to sign on slips taking their consent to shift to a transit camp. 

The same situation was seen on Tuesday as several others reported that they were made to sign on consent forms. The uncertainties with finding  a stable home along with the cash crunch has confounded many of them. “The transit camp and the in-situ rehabilitation that they had promised has not been made keeping our trade in mind. My family has shifted to the transit camp and they are finding it hard to find any stable work,” said Ramesh, a pyrotechnician.
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