A union of traders in Maharashtra has objected to the state government calling a bandh tomorrow in protest against last week’s violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri where four farmers were among eight people killed.
The traders’ union in a statement today said they are only limping back to business after intermittent lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the bandh would hit their earnings.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government comprising the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party or NCP is supporting the bandh. In fact, the state government itself announced the bandh at a joint press conference of the three parties.
“I request 12 crore people of Maharashtra to support the farmers. Support means all of you join the bandh and stop your work for a day,” Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik told reporters.
The state government said everything will be closed except for essential services.
The Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association or FRTWA, however, said it does not support the bandh. “We oppose the killing of farmers in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri. Whoever was responsible for the killings should be punished. But FRTWA does not support any bandh called by the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government,” the traders’ group chief Viren Shah said in a video statement.
“We have suffered huge losses for the past 18 months due to lockdown. Our business is slowly picking up. In middle of the festival season when customers have started coming out to shop, let us do our business peacefully. We appeal to the government to allow retail businesses to remain open. We hope that shopkeepers are not harassed or forced to remain shut,” Mr Shah said today.
Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra had been named in a police case filed by farmers who said he drove into a gathering of slogan-shouting demonstrators amid a peaceful black-flag protest last Sunday.