GUWAHATI, July 11 � Denial of space and lack of basic amenities has forced around 169 indigenous women vendors of Beltola to come together and demand their rights as per the National Policy for Street Vendors.
Runumi Basumatary, Ranjita Ingti and others, who belong to the poorest and most vulnerable section of the society, have formed an organisation inspired by the National Association of Street Vendors of India and have named it as Beltola Mahila Xak Pacholi Byabahayi Santha.
According to members of the santha who come from places such as Sonapur, Byrnihat, Boko, etc, to sell their assortment of local vegetables at the weekly market at Beltola, lack of space at this market has created much inconvenience for them.
�Some time back, we attended a meeting organised by the National Association of Street Vendors of India in Guwahati. After listening to the speakers who dwelt on the provisions of the National Policy for Street Vendors, we decided that we must come together and fight for our rights,� said Ranjita.
Apart from lack of space at the Beltola market, these indigenous women vendors have been facing a lot of other problems, including lack of basic amenities like drinking water, toilet facility, etc.
�Absence of public water and sanitation facilities are some of the other problems that we face,� said Ranjita.
It needs to be mentioned here that around 1,000 women belonging to indigenous tribal communities like Garo, Khasi, Bodo, Karbi, Rabha, etc., living in the villages located in the peripheries of the city commute regularly to the city with vegetables and locally available products that they sell in the street corners, pavements and markets.
�Each one of these women vendors have to encounter the struggle of surviving and carrying out their livelihood in a hostile environ, being confronted on a daily basis by those in power,� said a member of Society for Social Transformation and Environment Protection, a non-government organisation that has been working for the welfare of these women vendors adding that women vendors are constantly harassed, physically abused and compelled to pay bribes to police, local goons and municipal functionaries.