Gujarat shopkeepers disobey curfew to make ends meet

Business COVID-19

Despite a curfew imposed by the Gujarat government, several shops do business during restricted hours.

Bhavan Patel, a shopkeeper in Kamala Baug, Porbandar, informed The Observer: “It is difficult to meet our needs as this situation is prevailing for the past two years. As this will not end soon, we have to run our shop during curfew hours too.”

During curfew hours, most bakery shops and general stores remain open.

Madhav Kori, a bakery owner in Indraniel Society, Rajkot, said: “A majority of our customers visit after 6 pm, and the curfew begins at 7 pm. Therefore, I cannot afford to shut my shop during peak hours. Rising Covid-19 cases is a concern. But the government should consider our situation too.”

Bharat G, the owner of a general store in Paresh Nagar, Porbandar, said: “I close my shop at 7 pm. However, as the shop is situated next to my house, I provide services even after 7 pm. As no one comes to check residential areas, I continue selling goods even during curfew hours.”

Several shopkeepers who close their shops on time consider it an injustice as they incur financial losses due to the rules.

Shiv Rughani, who runs a bakery on M.G. Road, Porbandar, said: “We faced huge losses during the first wave of the pandemic. We don’t have any option. I have to close my shop after the curfew as my shop is situated on the main road.”

Customers frequently visit shops during curfew hours to buy essential items.

Anuj Khunti, a customer, said: “Bakery items are fresh only if we purchase them in the evening. Else, they are from the previous day. Therefore, we prefer to buy bread in the evening. Also, there is a lot of rush between 5 pm and 7 pm and we have to stand in a queue for around half an hour. Hence, I visit bakeries after 7 pm.”

Ashal V, another customer, shared: “We often visit shops in the evening…. Several bakeries sell after 7 pm behind closed shutters. So we go then. Also, there is less rush during those hours.”

Rambha Kiroon, another customer, said: “Shops in residential areas are open till 10 pm. Sometimes we require a few essentials like curd, milk and vegetables all of a sudden when guests arrive. Therefore, we frequently visit the shop after 6.30 pm.”

Shopkeepers who keep their shops in curfew hours are first warned, not penalized.

Sushma Kishore, a police inspector, said: “A fine is not charged if a shopkeeper is caught for the first time. Initially, a warning is given, and later a chargesheet filed.”

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