By now, you have probably heard about the recent acquisition of Smoke Shop Vac, one of India’s oldest and most iconic smoke shops.
It was one of the few stores that remained open during the Emergency, and remains a fixture in the heart of the city.
The acquisition of the shop was part of a much-delayed plan to revamp the city’s streetscape, but after months of delays, it was finally completed this year.
It has been described as one of New Delhi’s most important pieces of infrastructure, and it is hoped that the brand will provide a boost to the city once again.
However, some residents are still upset that the purchase was made without their consent, and are protesting outside the shop.
The Delhi City Council, however, has defended the decision, and said that the new management had agreed to pay the city $100,000 to keep Smoke Shop in the city, for “the purpose of improving the streetscape”.
“The purchase of the Smoke Shop was part and parcel of the plan for urban renewal and we are grateful for their contribution,” said D.P. Manocha, director general, urban development department, the council.
“We have to work hard to improve the streetscapes of the Delhi region and we will continue to do so,” he added.
However, residents have criticised the decision to buy the shop without their knowledge, and they have called for the government to take action.
Residents have also criticised the city for having to pay for a store to stay open during an emergency, and have demanded the city council to do more to make the streets safer during an event like this.
As part of the campaign, activists are demanding that the city to take steps to protect the Smoke shop and its owners from “the most brutal attack”.
Activists have also said that it would be better if the shop were bought by a private entity, rather than by the government.
If the city does not give in to their demands, the activists will take matters into their own hands and stage protests at the city hall, on Thursday.
In recent months, several similar protests have taken place at Smoke Shop, with several people arrested.
Follow Rajesh Sharma on Twitter: @RajeshRashid