India Business
PMO speaks to Koda over vendor-Reliance row
May 13, 2007 - 5:02:46 PM

Ranchi, May 13 - The Prime Minister's Office - has asked Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda to look into the angry protests by vegetable vendors over the opening of retail shops by corporate house Reliance here even as 13 people were arrested for Saturday's violence.

According to sources here, officials of the PMO spoke to the chief minister and asked him to look into the matter. The union home ministry is in touch with Jharkhand police chief J.B. Mahapatra over the violence.

Two policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty for the attack on three Reliance Fresh shops.

Five First Information Reports - have been lodged in two police stations - three in Lalpur and two in Bariatu. Among the 13 arrested is Uday Shankar Ojha, leader of Lok Janshakti Party -. Ojha was reportedly arrested on the directives of the chief minister.

Meanwhile, the security of Reliance Fresh shops has been increased.

According to a Reliance official, the protesting vendors damaged property worth Rs.5 million. One Reliance Fresh shop in Morabadi was badly ransacked. The protesters looted dry fruits and damaged vegetables and other commodities.

At least two dozen protesters were injured in a police baton charge.

The vendors are unhappy with the arrival of Reliance in the vegetable market.

'We have been selling vegetables for generations. The arrival of Reliance is a threat to our very survival and causing employment problems for us. We will starve to death if Reliance is not stopped from selling vegetables,' said Phulmani Devi, a vegetable vendor.

This is the second time in a week the vegetable sellers have taken out a procession to protest Reliance Fresh shops. Reliance purchases vegetables directly from farmers at higher prices and sells it at prices lower than those charged by roadside sellers.

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