Hours before the city's first match of FIFA Under 17 World Cup at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Salt Lake, thousands of hawkers and shanty dwellers on Sunday staged a massive protest demonstration against the "forceful evictions" in the "name of beautification of the city".
Amid heavy deployment of police, hawkers and slum dwellers gathered at the Sealdah Railway station in the afternoon and they were supposed to take out a protest rally from the station to Salt Lake Stadium which hosted England-Chile and Iraq-Mexico matches on Sunday.
The protesters, however, were stopped by police outside the station premises.
The agitators raised slogans against the Trinamool Congress government, the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) - the civic body at Salt Lake and its mayor Sabyaschi Dutta for "unlawful evictions".
"The eviction was an obvious violation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. If the BMC authorities do not resolve the issue after the Under 17 World Cup matches, we will launch a larger agitation," said Saktiman Ghosh, convener of the Joint Forum against Eviction and General Secretary of the National Hawkers Federation and Hawkers Sangram Samiti.
The officials of the Forum had accused the state government of forcefully evicting 5,000 hawkers from the Dumdum airport and Salt Lake area while another 2,500 might be evicted in the next few days.
According to National Hawkers Federation and Hawkers Sangram Samiti's estimation, nearly 10,000 hawkers and their respective families were affected by this eviction drive ahead of the mega soccer event.
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