Daryaganj Book Bazaar Gets New Home But Vendors Are Divided

Protesters said the market has heritage value and the government shouldn’t cite traffic problems for relocation.

3 min read

Video editor: Vishal Sharma

Cameraperson: Sumit Badola

Months after the Delhi High Court ordered a shutdown of Delhi's iconic Daryaganj Book Bazaar, the market has found a new home. It has been relocated to Mahila Haat, opposite Delite Cinema.

The Quint spoke to some vendors and found that they were divided; some were setting up stalls at Mahila Haat while many were protesting at the Golcha Market where they used to sit earlier.

The vendors partaking in the protest are highly disappointed that their relocation to Mahila Haat was approved by one person alone, on behalf of them all, and that their consent was not taken.

Protesters Want Older Market

Mahila Haat has been allocated as the new place for vendors to put up their stalls, and will be given to them on rent for two years, after which the contract has to be renewed. However, the vendors who are protesting are distressed that they have no guarantee that they will be allowed to continue to set up their stalls there after two years.

Protesting for the vendors, Sohail Hashmi, a well-known historian told The Quint,

“This move is a fraud, Mahila Haat has been allocated to the vendors on the lease of two years. But, if the Haat gets allotted to someone else after two years, where will the vendors go?”
Sohail Hashmi, Historian
Vendors protest at the older market area.
Vendors protest at the older market area.
Photo courtesy: (Sumit Badola/The Quint)

Speaking to The Quint, a bookseller, Rajesh, claimed that the the move for relocation is “illegal”.

“The ex-president of the Sunday Book Bazaar Association took the decision on behalf of all 276 vendors without informing any of us. We had even provided a copy of his resignation to the SHO and ACP and the DCP offices. Despite that, they took the decision and moved the vendors to the new rented space (sic.)”he said.

How Legal Is the Move?

Many activists and students who were a part of the protest in support of the vendors complained about the legality of the process of relocation as per the Street Vendors Act.

Protesters also said the market has heritage value and the government should not cite “traffic problems” as a reason for relocation.

Sumit, another vendor said, “We don’t say the footpath is our own, we understand it is a weekly market of temporary nature but, according to the provisions in the Street Vendors Act... without any survey or licence you can’t ask us to shut down the market. We ask the government what are we getting in lieu of our 50 year old book market?” 
Protestors demand for The Street Vendors Act to be followed.
Protestors demand for The Street Vendors Act to be followed.
Photo courtesy: (Sumit Badola/The Quint)

Mahila Haat’s Present Situation

However, in the evening, Mahila Haat transformed into something entirely different from what we saw at Golcha Market. The vendors were happy with the footfall and felt the place was better and cleaner, as well as more organised.

Daryaganj Book Bazaar Gets New Home But Vendors Are Divided
Photo courtesy: (Sumit Badola/The Quint) 

The North Delhi Region Commissioner Varsha Joshi tweeted, “How come “activists” have such immense problems with an upgraded, higher quality, safer, legally binding, arrangement for vendors and shoppers? The activists prefer clogged traffic and danger to life and limb for vendors and buyers?”

Daryaganj Book Bazaar Gets New Home But Vendors Are Divided
(Photo Courtesy: Screenshot/Twitter)

Book lovers who were present at the market were happy to find books being sold at cheap prices and especially as the market has been the go-to place to find great, sometimes even rare books!

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