IMC officers and removal officers refused to respond and ordered the police to remove vendors from their place. Police began beating up the vendors especially women vendors, with lathis to disperse them. Male IMC official and policemen used vulgar abuses, slapped the women on their faces, tore their sarees, and pulled them to the ground by their hair. The Police Thana In charge (TI) also slapped and beat Rajmaniben (SEWA's President) and Bhanuben, and pulled them into the police van brutally.
The police arrested 12 persons; 9 women, including the President of SEWA and 3 men. As General Secretary of SEWA MP Shikha Joshi along with Santosh Malviya immediately reached the spot tried a lot to enter into police station, she was not allowed in. The police denied any violence, and threatened to arrest her if she continued to ask questions. Immediately about 100 members of SEWA MP. Many authorities were contacted, none of whom were helpful.
The police deliberately framed the charges after 5.30 pm, to prevent a bail application from being submitted. All this happened even though the Government of India declared a National Policy for the benefit of urban poor and passed orders for its implementation to the state government. The Madhya Pradesh government implemented the National Policy for Street Vendors in May 2006. The state government directed the Municipality Corporation and local bodies to duly implement the policy. The District Collectors were entrusted in the responsibility of monitoring the urban units. This policy included Identity cards, License, Hawkers Zone, Credit Facility, Insurance, Ward Committee, Town Committee, Skill training etc for vendors. It is clearly mentioned in the National Policy that no street vendor should be forcefully evicted. They would be relocated with adequate rehabilitation only where the land is needed for a public purpose of urgent need.
The next day, SEWA's members were granted bail after a 24-hour stay in jail. The next day, SEWA MP organized a Shanti March (silent rally) led by Smt. Manorama Joshi (founder of SEWA MP) in Indore About 1500 members of SEWA MP participated in this rally against police violence against vendors.
SEWA also organized a press conference and rally in state capital. After the press conference, a delegation lead by Founder of SEWA MP Manorama Joshi met with Babulal Gaur, Minister for Urban Development Administration, MP Government and informed him about this incident. A memorandum was given to him about it. Babulal Gaur ordered for IMC Commissioner to talk urgently to SEWA regarding this matter.
Next day, a delegation met with Shri Jagdish Devda, the Home Minister, MP Government and told them about all incident regarding police atrocities, and victims shared the real picture with the Home Minister. A video of atrocities on women by police and IMC was also shown.
A big rally was also organized in Bhopal against illegal removal, harassment and violence against women and avoiding rules and regulation of the Policy for Street Vendors. After it, the same delegation met with the member of Madhya Pradesh Women Rights Commission (WRC) and gave her a memorandum. The same video was also shown to member of WRC.
After orders from Minister for Urban Development, the Indore Municipal Corporation showed a readiness to talk with us on the above matter. Indore Municipal Corporation also returned all seized goods of venders on Sunday 21 June. In spite of it being a holiday, the Commissioner opened the Municipal Corporation and returned all goods to vendors.
Chief Minister and Home Minister also ordered an inquiry into the whole incident. After inquiry, police officer in charge (Thana In-charge Rakesh Vyas) was removed from his post. Apart from this, Superintendent of Police (SP) and Inspector General of Police (IG) were also transferred and new SP took over the charge.
SEWA is now in talks with the Government and the IMC about implementation of the National Policy for Street Vendors and the creation of hawkers' zones in Indore and other cities of Madhya Pradesh.
Please do respond with your reactions to our news to Beena Trivedi, Co-ordinator, SEWA National Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: SEWA National Council
409, Sakar-II, 4th Floor, Opposite Town Hall, Ellisbridge, Ahmedabad: 380 006. Gujarat, India