Rameswaram: The local unit of the CPI(M) staged a demonstration before the Rameswaram municipality office on Tuesday, protesting against the collection of what in colloquial language is termed daily ‘hafta’ (sort of protection money) ‘have to’ payments by ‘seasonal hawkers’ to the permanent roadside vendors in this pilgrim-island.
As Rameswaram witnesses large number of pilgrims and tourists from all over the country, particularly in the November-January quarter coinciding with the ‘Sabarimala’ shrine pilgrimage season, the municipality allows a good number of ‘seasonal hawkers’ to sell their ware at key places in Rameswaram.
These places include the area near the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram bus stand, Agnitheertham seafront, near the Pamban road bridge, Dhanushkodi and along some main roads here, where the ‘seasonal hawkers’ put up various essential articles needed by pilgrims for sale during these months. After the ‘Sabarimala’ season is over, usually by end of January each year, the ‘seasonal hawkers’ fold up their pavement make-shift shops and leave the town, says N. P. Senthil, CPI(M) Rameswaram town
However, this year with the Sabarimala pilgrimage itself becoming a national controversy, it is alleged that the permanent roadside vendors who sell all through the year have been demanding ‘hafta’ payments, as an unofficial lease amount, on a daily basis.
To protest against this sudden practice that has cropped up in Rameswaram this year, the CPI(M) volunteers and members staged a demonstration after which they handed over a memorandum to the officer-in-charge of Rameswraam municipality to end this practice, said Senthil. The officer assured to take action on this issue, he added....