HYDERABAD: For the street hawkers of Charminar, the month of Ramzan accounts for most of their annual profits, keeping them afloat for the rest of the year. However, after the Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP) came into existence, a few years back, their businesses have seen a slow and steady slump in profits.
A constant monitoring by the police, along with extortion threats from local goons over occupying spaces to set up kiosks, have together reduced the profits of these hawkers who rely on the sale of bangles and imitation jewellery for a living. Worse yet, these goons are, more often than not, protected by political powers in the city.
“Local goons—affiliated to a political party—charge Rs 400 to Rs 500 a day for small spots,” a local bangle seller at Charminar, told Express, on the condition of anonymity. The spots being referred to, are along the pathway leading to Mecca Masjid. Although recently the police cleared the area, a few vendors, with help from the goons, have set up shops here.
“Some of the goons own anywhere between six to ten shops, sometimes making Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000, per day. Nobody complaints about this with the police, fearing a retaliation,” he added.
Another bangle seller Abdul, said that the business would be the same as last year: low. “This is the holiday season. Earlier we wouldn’t have any free time to even talk to others. But not anymore,” recalls Abdul.
“Business will never be the same as it was before CPP,” says Fayaz, of Tazeen Bangles.
Tiffs among vendors
Adbul also observed how the slackened business and poor profits were further reflected in the attitudes of vendors towards each other. A few months back, an altercation broke out between two hawkers, a video of which went viral on social media.
Following the altercation, the Charminar police had conducted a meeting with the hawkers and asked them to maintain peace. However, during the meeting, when the police asked gave them a chance to talk about the goons, not a single hawker responded.