NSC Bose Road eviction drive: Elderly hawker faints while being chased, dies at hospital

She probably died due to her health conditions and a postmortem will be conducted to ascertain the exact reason, officials said.
Police moving an autorickshaw from the area where public began a protest following the death of a 63-year-old fruit vendor (inset) during eviction on NSC Bose Road
Police moving an autorickshaw from the area where public began a protest following the death of a 63-year-old fruit vendor (inset) during eviction on NSC Bose Road(Photo | P Ravikumar)

CHENNAI: The death of M Krishnaveni, a 63-year-old fruit vendor, during an eviction drive on NSC Bose Road on Thursday morning, sent shock waves among the public and led to protests from other hawkers. The woman had fainted while trying to save her fruit basket as corporation and police authorities were chasing her, and died soon after at a city hospital.

According to her fellow vendors, the deceased had been selling fruits on NSC Bose Road since her youth, and had been living on the platform with her son who has a mental illness.

Corporation and police officials, however, said that her death was not connected to the eviction drive and she fainted not near the spot where the eviction was conducted. She probably died due to her health conditions and a postmortem will be conducted to ascertain the exact reason, officials said.

R Bhakiyam (68), a fruit seller, said that Krishnaveni fainted while running into one of the lanes when the vendors were chased by the officials. She was given water by other vendors and was taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, where she died soon after.

The deceased woman, whose husband had passed away earlier, is survived by her two daughters and two sons. Three of her children are married. One son who has mental illness used to stay with Krishnaveni. Following the incident, vendors staged a protest, demanding to take action against the officials who were involved in the eviction drive and provide compensation to her family.

Over 400 vendors operate on NSC Bose Road and based on orders of the Madras High Court, corporation has been trying to evict them for long. “Corporation and the HC should consider provision of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. According to it, street vendors can’t be evicted without consulting the town vending committee,” said V Maheswaran, all-India secretary of the National Association of Street Vendors of India. He said this death was not the first human rights violation during eviction drives on NSC Bose Road.

Bhakiyam alleged that the corporation officials harassed them regularly, citing the court order. “We borrow money at interest to buy fruits and sell them. During eviction, they throw the fruits on the ground and destroy them. Many of us have been selling fruits and other items here for more than six decades. We also live here. How can we shift to some other place,” she asked. The 68-year-old woman added that many hawkers on the street are single mothers, destitute or married to alcoholics. “We have no other option but to sell fruits here for a living,” she further said.

The vendors also said that the alternative place allotted to them on TNPSC Road is not in good condition. “The shop size is minimal and the entire street is infamous for public urination. Also, many people don’t frequent that area which can severely affect our livelihood. The corporation should remove the parking space on the road and give it to vendors,” urged A Muneeswari, another vendor.

A corporation official said as per the report received from the field, Krishnaveni died away from the place where the eviction was taking place. When asked if the town vending committee had approved the eviction, he said that the vendors knew about the eviction as it was based on the HC order.

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