Thursday, January 29, 2009

hawkers, politics, and murder

A grisly story out of Kolkata, India: a dispute over the allocation of stalls at a train station on the northeastern fringes of the city may have claimed the lives of two hawker leaders, Express India reports. The two street sellers, from the Durganagar Station Hawkers Union, were hacked to death Tuesday, and their assailants were affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), police said. Apparently, platforms at the train station had recently been extended to accommodate 12-car trains and the union was negotiating over who would be in line to get the additional stalls. Both the victims and their assailants were members of the CPM -- Communist Party of India-Marxist -- which controls the local government.

But here's a different take on the story: The Telegraph reports that the fight began when the two protested against an illegal liquor bar at the far end of the platform.

And here's an interesting angle, from Kerala Online:
The case brings to fore how railway platforms in all suburban sections of the Sealdah division are up for grabs. Those who want to set up stalls — selling anything from tea to snacks to fruits and vegetables — have to pay to the ruling party. In most places, it is the CITU-backed unions who rule the roost. Every inch of the platform has a price and largely, the CITU controls as to who will be allowed to vend his wares.

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