West Bengal will go without newspapers for four days - from October 22 to the 25 - because newspaper hawkers want Durga Puja holidays. Since hawkers won't distribute dailies, newspaper houses will also stay shut for four days.
Some say that the real issue is commissions, that newspaper hawkers want double in the festive season. But a Trinamool Congress dominated hawker union says commissions can be discussed later. They want Durga Puja holidays and if state government employees can get 10, then why can't hawkers get four?
"When, after 34 years, pariborton came, we strengthened our movement. The previous government somehow scuttled it. Now our movement has gained ground and we will succeed," said Dipankar Pal, president of the hawkers' association.
"Hawkers are happy we have been demanding this for 20 years. The companies were not willing but now they have agreed," said Nilu Biswas, the secretary of the association.
The news has shocked many. "If the government shuts down for 10 days, imagine the loss, it is really a matter of concern. Newspapers shutting down for one day, on Dashami, is fine but they must be available on other days," said Dilip Modi, a resident of Kolkata.
"Everyone is entitled to holidays but not for these basic amenities like the newspaper. Then tomorrow they will say we will not supply milk," said Roshni Beriwala, another resident of Kolkata.
As per the scheduled, the state government has declared Durga Puja
holidays from October 20-25. The Eid will be celebrated on the 27; the
next day is a Sunday. Lakshmi Puja will be celebrated on October 29. So,
the only working day in between was October 26, but that too has been
declared a holiday by Ms Banerjee, giving government employees a 10-day Durga Puja vacation beginning Saturday.
The Mamata Banerjee government has not approached the newspaper hawkers to ask them to rethink their holiday plans.