We the Self-Employed
SEWA'S electronic newsletter
No. 19
May – June 2009
  • Struggle against Violence on Street Vendors in Madhya Pradesh
  • Pocket PCOs for SEWA members
  • Nepalese artists trained at SEWA
  • Building better construction skills
  • SEWA around the world
Struggle of SEWA Madhya Pradesh against Harassment and Violence with Vendor Members by Municipal Corporation and Police at Indore

There are about 50,000-60,000 vendors in Indore in many markets around the city. The Itwariya market is the oldest vegetable market of Indore in which about 100 vendors sell their goods. More than 50 of the vendors are female and members of SEWA MP. 
On June 7th 2009 the Indore Municipal Corporation van came and announced through loudspeakers that this is now a ‘Heritage Road’, and that the market is illegal. And on June 09, 2009, the removal team of Indore unicipal Corporation (IMC), with no other warning or notice, reached Itwariya market and wanted to remove this market in the name of encroachment. The removal gang of IMC and policemen of concerning police station (Malharganj Thana) was ready to remove these vendors from their space.

Members of SEWA MP called the office to inform them about the illegal removal. After that four organisers of SEWA MP went to the market and tried to convince the removal officer that eviction is prohibited by the National and State Policy for Street Vendors. They should be given prior notice before one month, as well as provided alternative space to venders for their livelihood.
IMC officers and removal officers refused to respond and ordered the police to remove vendors from their place. Police began beating up the vendors especially women vendors, with lathis to disperse them. Male IMC official and policemen used vulgar  abuses, slapped the women on their faces, tore their sarees, and pulled them to the ground by their hair. The Police Thana Incharge (TI) also slapped and beat Rajmaniben (SEWA’s President) and Bhanuben, and pulled them into the police van brutally. 
The police arrested 12 persons,; 9 women, including the President of  SEWA and 3 men. As General Secretary of Sewa MP Shikha Joshi along with Santosh Malviya immediately reached the spot tried a lot to enter into police station, she was not allowed in. The police denied any violence, and threatened to arrest her if she continued to ask questions. Immediately about 100 members of Sewa MP.  Many authorities were contacted, none of whom were helpful.
The police deliberately framed the charges after 5.30 pm, to prevent a bail application from being submitted. All this happened even though the Government of India declared a National Policy for the benefit of urban poor and passed orders for its implementation to the state government. The Madhya Pradesh government implemented the National Policy for Street Vendors in May 2006.  The state government directed the Municipality Corporation and local bodies to duly implement the policy. The District Collectors were entrusted in the responsibility of monitoring the urban units.  This policy included Identity cards, License, Hawkers Zone, Credit Facility, Insurance, Ward Committee, Town Committee, Skill training etc for vendors. It is clearly mentioned in the National Policy that no street vendor should be forcefully evicted. They would be relocated with adequate rehabilitation only where the land is needed for a public purpose of urgent need. 

The next day, SEWA’s members were grated bail after a 24-hour stay in jail. The next day, Sewa MP organised a Shanti March (silent rally) led by Smt. Manorama Joshi (founder of Sewa MP) in Indore About 1500 members of SEWA MP participated in this rally against police violence against vendors.

SEWA also organised a press conference and rally in state capital.After press conference, a delegation lead by Founder of Sewa MP Manorama Joshi met with Babulal Gaur, Minister for Urban Development Administration, MP Government and informed him about this incident. A memorandum was given to him about it. Babulal Gaur ordered for IMC Commissioner to talk urgently to SEWA regarding this matter.
Next day, a delegation met with Shri Jagdish Devda, the Home Minister, MP Government and told them about all incident regarding police atrocities, and victims shared the real picture with the Home Minister. A video of atrocities on women by police and IMC was also shown.

A big rally was also organised in Bhopal against illegal removal, harassment and violence
against women and avoiding rules and regulation of the Policy for Street Vendors. After it, the same delegation met with the member of Madhya Pradesh Women Rights
Commission (WRC) and gave her a memorandum. The same video was also shown to
member of WRC.

After orders from Minister for Urban Development, the Indore Municipal Corporation showed a readiness to talk with us on the above matter. Indore Municipal Corporation also returned all seized goods of venders on Sunday 21 June. In spite of it being a holiday, the Commissioner opened the Municipal Corporation and returned all goods to vendors.
Chief Minister and Home Minister also ordered an inquiry into the whole incident. After inquiry, police officer in charge (Thana In-charge Rakesh Vyas) was removed from his post . Apart from this, Superintendent of Police (SP) and Inspector General of Police (IG) were also transferred and new SP took over the charge.
SEWA is now in talks with the Government and the IMC about implementation of the National Policy for Street Vendors and the creation of hawkers zones in Indore and other cities of Madhya Pradesh.

Pocket PCOs for Women

SEWA introduced pocket public call office (PCO) facilities for women in two districts of Gujarat. A novel concept, the pocket PCO serves as a mobile pay phone that can be carried anywhere.  Women can start a PCO business at a small cost selling airtime to others at a reduced rate. Hansiba. Trained women artisans of Nepal

Nepalese artists trained at SEWA

Twenty-four women artisans from Nepal recently underwent a month long intensive skill training at Hansiba, SEWA’ retail outlet.   They came to SEWA from across the hills of Nepal, with many expectations and dreams.  Traditional artisans skilled in weaving, knitting and embroidery, they learned skills that allow them to compete in current markets.  Their interaction with SEWA’s artisans also ignited new dreams of self-reliance and further education, which they

Building Better Construction Skills

Madhuben Makawana attended an 18 day construction training camp organised by Building and Wood Workers International in the Netherlands.   Madhuben started working as a laborer at a young age of 16 years. In 2001, she acquired training in construction from SEWA.  In the Netherlands, she had the opportunity to develop skills in carpentry, leveling, finishing, door and windows finishing and brick-laying.

Today, Madhuben works as a contractor in Ahmedabad, and is currently rebuilding SEWA’s ‘Pushpanjali’ house.  She also helped in building over 150 toilets in the slums of Ahmedabad. She, along with her sisters in the construction industry, relies on her enhanced skills to earn her a more secure livelihood in construction.

SEWA Around the World

  1. SEWA representatives traveled to Cambodia to share our experience organizing waste pickers, with Public Services International in Cambodia.  They shared the successes and challenges of waste-pickers in Ahmedabad, who have organised to improve their incomes and working conditions while collecting garbage and cleaning roads.
  2. SEWA presented its work at the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey in April.


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