Small traders bear brunt of Sunday closure as major players escape
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 12: After months of clamour from citizens and appeals from trade unions to lift the NSCN’s (IM) closure of commercial establishments on Sundays in Dimapur city, some big outlets have finally started opening since May 5, after church services ie., 2:00 pm. Shutters are still down though in most of the popular markets dominated by small traders.
Big retail companies like Reliance, Big Bazaar, Vishal Mega Mart, Pentaloons, Viraat, and Westside come alive on Sundays, after 2:00 pm.
When asked if the ban on business on Sundays had been lifted, Big Bazaar’s property owner Nibu Nagi told Eastern Mirror that retail companies such as Reliance, Pentaloons, Westside etc. have a rule ‘to open on Sundays.’
“The mega retail shops have a target to fulfil. So to fulfil that target, we have to open on Sunday. Otherwise it is not possible (to achieve the target). Our companies have spoken to the authorities of NSCN (IM). We could only request them to allow us (mega retail shops) to open after 2pm, that is, after all the church services are over,” he said.
“The higher officials of the group said that the main target of the closure is illegal ‘disco hotel.’ Later, they included the entire commercial shops,” he added.
While major market players seem have managed to ensure that they earn on all days of the week, smaller traders, who run business at New Market, Hong Kong Market, and Super Market among others, are confused as the NSCN (IM) is yet to announce lifting of the ban.
The president of the New Market Business Owners Association, Kughali Chishi, told Eastern Mirror that traders under the association have different opinions about the closure.
“Some are willing to open on Sundays, while some say that ‘there is no harm having one day break after six days of work,’” she explained. “Even if they open, some members of the group might come and disturb them by imposing fines.”
A member said that the shopkeepers live in ‘fear,’ thinking that something untoward might happen to them if they open shop on Sunday.
“We can’t force the shopkeepers to open the shops as some members of the armed groups target the helpless ones. If anything happens to them, we will not be able to protect them completely,” Chishi said.
She said to have tried requesting the group to lift the closure for the business people with perishable items. “Some of the members said we can open while some of them were reluctant to allow,” she added.
Chishi assured that the association will again try to request the groups to lift the Sunday closure for the New Market area.
Several councils and unions in Dimapur had on March 17 directed the businesses dealing in perishable items, grocery, confectionary; medicine; and hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies within Dimapur municipality and east Dimapur to reopen their shops on Sundays. But most people did not follow the directive due to the ‘ambiguity’ surrounding it.
To clear the confusion, Eastern Mirror contacted a member of the NSCN’s (IM) ‘union territory-1.’ He said that the ‘head officials of government’ were still deliberating on the matter and were yet to arrive at a conclusion. He assured that the decision would be announced at the earliest.