AIZAWL, Sept 4 - NGOs of Dawrpui locality here, led by its local council, have ordered four food trucks to stay away from the area, triggering a public outrage on the social media today.
The food trucks were first put up in December last year at the Mahatma Gandhi Square in the heart of Aizawl and since then, local residents had been savouring the food items sold from these trucks.
Just when the business had begun to flourish with more people flocking to the food trucks, their owners are now staring at a bleak future with the local organisations issuing a diktat not to operate in the area from September 1.
The notice followed an alleged brawl on August 30 in the locality, which the local vigilantes blamed on the food trucks.
“When we were about to open our food trucks on Saturday night, we were told that we will not be allowed to do business here anymore. At first, we had no idea why they are doing this to us. Only later we came to know that there was a street brawl and some of our customers were reportedly involved in it,” said Lalchhandama, owner of a food truck called Zo Global.
“We are not even sure if those were indeed our customers. The alleged street brawl took place after we had closed the food trucks,” he said.
Lalchhandama further said the Dawrpui NGOs had disapproved of the food trucks operating in their area as they believe that they have turned the area into a hub of drug addicts and commercial sex workers. “This is not true. We all know that this place has been a favourite haunt of drug addicts and commercial sex workers for the last many years. They were here long before we came,” he said.
He added that their customers include members of the church youth wings, people who work late nights, the attendants of the patients of Aizawl Civil Hospital and people from different sections of the society.
In the first few months, the trucks used to remain open till 2 am on public demand, but the local NGOs later fixed 11 pm as the closing time.
Asked what would be their reaction to the notice, Lalchhandama said they were optimistic that the matter would be settled through mutual understanding.
“Some people have advised us to shift to somewhere else. That had come to our mind too. But this place is in the heart of the city and a non-residential area that has the widest road in Aizawl. Therefore, it is the most suitable place for us. Most of the streets in Aizawl are not wide enough for food trucks,” he said.
“We hope for the best. We cannot afford to close down because we have huge loans to repay. Closing down our food trucks will leave us reeling under heavy debts,” he said.
Meanwhile, the netizens of Aizawl took to social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp to criticise the move by the NGOs with many of them terming it as “uncalled for” and an “uncivilised” act.