Beautification work: Told to vacate shops, traders demand justice from SGPC

Amritsar, Punjab: The shopkeepers, who are facing the threat of displacement, due to beautification work being carried out under the Golden Temple Entrance Plaza project, today sought justice from the SGPC.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Golden Temple Complex Shopkeepers Association President, Gurdip Singh Bawa, said they welcomed the beautification of the shrine’s entrance, but the manner in which they were being evicted from the Golden Temple Complex, without giving them any alternative, is highly unjust. “Not only the shopkeepers but hundreds of families dependent on these shops either directly or indirectly will lose their livelihood if the shopkeepers were evicted. We have already suffered a lot during the dark days of militancy.” He said they had always cooperated with the SGPC and the government authorities and were still ready to help in every possible manner to make the project successful. He said they had also brought uniformity in signage of the shops on the directions of the SGPC, adding that they were willing to make further modifications in the structure of the shops to make the front elevation of the area more attractive.

For almost five decades these shops are engaged in selling religious and cultural items like ‘kirpans, ‘kara’, ‘kangha’, religious literature, music, ‘rumala sahib’ etc. The traders said the closure of shops would not only hit the cottage industry but also cause inconvenience to the thousands of devotees visiting the holy shrine daily. “Most of the goods sold at these shops are locally manufactured by artisans who in turn buy their raw material such as steel, wood and fabric from local vendors. Similarly, books relating to Sikh religion and history are printed in the city. Even Rumala Sahibs are manufactured locally.” The photographs of Sikh gurus and gurdwaras sold at these shops are also manufactured locally and a large section of people are engaged in printing, laminating and framing of the photographs. Therefore, removing these shops will cast doom on the economy of the large number of residents who earn their livelihood through these shops, they added. They appealed to the SGPC and the state government to take a sympathetic and a humanitarian view of the situation and not to remove these shops from the complex.
Source: The Tribune

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