No relief for riot-affected shop owners

[ Junroi Mamai ]

Almost four months after massive damages were caused to Takar Complex, the oldest commercial building in Naharlagun, during the anti-Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) riots on 24 February, many of its shop owners are still struggling to support their livelihood, while some have since returned to their native places.
With no compensation or immediate relief from the government in sight, some of them are thinking of leaving the state for good, as they cannot afford to stay any longer without any source of income to support their families.
“There were some talks regarding compensation for us from the state government, but nothing has materialized so far. Some of us who had insured our shops are still running from pillar to post to get financial help, but such paperwork takes a lot of time,” said a woman who used to have a shop in the shopping complex for many years.
“What am I to do here now? Like many, I have been surviving on my savings all this while, but I can’t afford to stay here any longer without any income. I have rent to pay for the house, pay bills and school fees of the children,” she rued. She has now decided to move on to her native place in Nepal, like most of the others, who have already prepared to leave for their hometowns Bomdila, Tenzingaon, and Assam.
Also, business has become competitive ever since the oldest shopping complex was torched and damaged. Another affected shop owner said she is finding it difficult to find any other room on rent to set up a shop since most of the building owners charge close to Rs 50 to 60 lakhs as security money.
“It has become very competitive nowadays. A room somewhere near the main market area would be ideal for potential business but right now, I clearly can’t afford to pay such a huge amount,” she said.
Although the state government had assured to look into the grievances of the shopkeepers and the shop owners, little has been done to provide them with any relief.
On 27 February, the Arunachal Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI) had approached the chief minister, urging him to take early steps to address the grievances of the affected shop owners by constituting a committee to coordinate with the government in assessing the properties lost or damaged during the anti-PRC riots.
While the ACCI had also sent a report to the office of the Naharlagun EAC regarding the matter of compensation, most of the affected shopkeepers/owners claim that they have been asked to produce documents after documents regarding the properties lost or damaged, in order to pursue legal procedures to secure compensation for them.
“We have to provide fresh documents regarding GST, tax and challan to the authorities as all our earlier documents were lost when our shops were burnt down. All this is tiresome and will take a lot of time,” said one of the affected shop owners.

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