‘When we hear of a raid, we pack up and run’: Fire Vendors in Delhi

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‘When we hear of a raid, we pack up and run’: Fire Vendors in Delhi

The Supreme Court may have banned the sale of firecrackers in the national capital region (NCR) in the run-up to Diwali, but that needn’t necessarily mean that this festive season will be any less colourful – or polluted – than the last.

Street vendors in Old Delhi continue to sell phooljhadis, anars and chakris with gay abandon, caring little for the environment or the khaki-clad policemen patrolling the area. The moment these small-time traders are alerted to an impending raid, their wares are hastily whisked away to a hiding place far away from probing eyes.

When an HT team visited Esplanade Road near Jama Masjid on Thursday, it beheld firecracker shops with shutters closed tight and dozens of businessmen complaining about how the ban had cost them their livelihood. Until last year, this area used to host wholesalers feeding the high demand for fireworks that usually precedes the days leading up to the festival of light.

However, a different reality presented itself at another area in Chandni Chowk about a few hundred feet away. The bustling street was lined with vendors openly peddling everything from sparklers and rockets to high-decibel ‘sutli bombs’ despite clear orders from the apex court that the sale of all such products be banned in NCR until November 1.