Delhi onion traders to go on strike, government threatens action (Lead)

January 11th, 2011 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Onion traders in the national capital announced an indefinite strike from Wednesday to protest raids on their premises in the wake of spiralling onion prices. The Delhi government threatened to invoke a stringent law against them unless they back down.”We are going on a strike for an indefinite period to protest the IT raids on onion traders,” Meetha Ram, president of the Chamber of Azadpur Fruit and Vegetable Sellers, told IANS.

“There has been no hoarding, whatever stock we have, we sell it every day,” he said. “Yet the raids not only checked for stocks, they also checked the cash with the traders,” Ram added.

The trader said that if any hoarding was found anywhere in the city, they will back off immediately.

“If they can show us hoarding anywhere, we will back off immediately. The price rise is because of a demand-supply gap,” he said.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf said if necessary, the Delhi government would not hesitate to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act against the onion traders if they go on strike.

“We are trying our best to bring down the prices of onion and at this juncture, the strike is totally uncalled for,” he told reporters here.

He said the government was ready to look into “genuine grievances” of the traders but would not allow them to make people suffer.

Earlier, onion traders in Nashik had also gone on a strike Monday morning protesting IT raids there, but called it off later.

The IT department had last week conducted similar raids in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and few other states to check hoarding of onions. The wholesale price of onion is around Rs.40 to Rs.47 per kg in wholesale and Rs.55 to Rs.60 per kg in retail in the national capital.

To provide relief to people, the Delhi government has made arrangement to sell onions at Rs.35 per kg at around 400 select outlets across in the city including the Mother Dairy stores and Kendriya Bhandars.

“The subsidised onions would be made available at the outlets from tomorrow (Wednesday),” Yusuf said.

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