GUWAHATI, Feb 20 � The strike by the newspaper hawkers of the city completed its fifth day today with reports that the hawkers have opted for extending their strike by three more days. Meanwhile, readers of local newspapers have expressed serious concern over the continued strike by the hawkers, who have targeted the local newspapers in a selective manner, holding their readers and employees at ransom.
It may be mentioned here that the newspaper hawkers have been demanding 35 per cent commission, against the existing 27 per cent from the newspaper agents for their service of distributing the local newspapers. The commission paid to the hawkers for distributing the local newspapers in Guwahati is the highest in the country, claim the local newspaper houses here.
Contrary to the 27 per cent commission they receive for distributing the local newspapers, the hawkers receive 20 per cent commission for distributing the national newspapers.
On an average, the local newspaper houses pay 35 per cent commission to the newspaper agents of the city for distributing their newspapers, whereas the national newspapers pay 25 per cent commission to the newspaper agents of the city.
Noted political analyst and educationist Prof ANS Ahmed warned that the hawkers would land themselves in trouble if the situation is allowed to go beyond control. The hawkers should listen to the other side too, said Prof Ahmed.
He reminded the hawkers that arrogance is not compatible to democratic values. However, he maintained that it would have been better had it been possible to address the problems of the hawkers.
Expressing similar views, Prof Abani Bhagabati of Gauhati University reminded the hawkers that if the local newspaper industry, which is paying more commissions compared to the national newspapers, dies the hawkers themselves will also be affected.
The economy of the local newspaper should be analysed. Hawkers work for limited hours in a day and their future is inseparably linked with the future of the local newspapers.
Under no circumstances should the readers be made to suffer as they are the backbone of the newspaper industry, said Prof Bhagabati, adding, �I am very sad because of the sudden absence of the local newspapers from my daily life. We have learnt to begin our day-to-day activities after reading the local newspapers, which have become essential parts of our lives. Without them modern life cannot be complete.�
He further mentioned that the non-availability of newspapers creates problems for modern families, including their school-going children. However, he maintained that the newspaper agents should also look into the other problems of the hawkers sympathetically.