The traders and shopkeepers of Ayodhya have petitioned Ram Lalla to ask for their shops to not be demolished for the proposed widening of roads that lead to the Ram Mandir.
Nand Kumar Gupta, the president of the traders’ union, said, “We have written to the state government and the local administration but received no response. Our last resort is to seek help from Ram Lalla”. Gupta said that the administration had drawn up no plans to rehabilitate the uprooted shoppers, whose numbers will be in excess of 800.
On Thursday evening, traders from 12 local markets, marched to the Ram Janmabhoomi to hand over their petition to the priest for placing it at the feet of the deity.
“Shri Ram is the king of Ayodhya. There is no government above him”, said Gupta.
Earlier, on July 16, shops had been shut from 12 pm to 2 pm to protest against the four-lane project which will make a visit to the Janmabhoomi easier. For now, no vehicles, except VIP ones, are allowed on the final stretch of the narrow, winding road that leads up to the Janmabhoomi.
The representation, addressed to “Shri Ram Lalla Sarkar” says that while the widening of the road will mean loss of livelihood to hundreds of traders, it will also cause the old doors and facades of mandirs and maths to be broken, thus causing irreparable damage to the city’s original character.
This is not the first time that shopkeepers have expressed their dismay at the development projects which will impact them. Handbills that read “No destruction, only development; no four-lane no two-lane” have been plastered on shops for months now.
The six demands presented before Ram Lalla include a transparent mechanism for land acquisition and rehabilitation, dialogue by the local administration with the local businessmen whose work will be impacted to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution, at least a month’s notice to even those shopkeepers who will be minimally impacted by the making of the four-lane project and the promise of not creating pressure on traders to part with their land.
“On receipt of your cooperation we traders shall remain committed to the development of Ayodhya,” ends the letter.