Indian traders down shutters to protest at retail giants

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, July 10, 2008 (AFP) – Traders in India’s southern Kerala state shut up shop on Thursday in a show of opposition to the entry of retail giants into the area. The president of the Kerala Merchants and Traders Coordination Committee, the largest body of traders in the communist-ruled state, said the strike was “total.”

“Around 300,000 shop owners downed their shutters to protest against the entry of retail giants. The state government has assured us that it would frame laws to block the entry of retail giants in Kerala. But nothing has happened so far,” T. Nasiruddeen told AFP.

Hundreds of traders also staged a protest march in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram to demand the immediate closure of superstores owned by both Indian and foreign conglomerates.

Kerala’s communist-led ruling alliance has said it wants to protect small traders with measures including a 10 percent surcharge on the profits of supermarket chains — but has yet to take any firm action.

“The delay in framing laws is to help the retail giants. We will go to any level to block the retail giants in our soil,” Nasiruddeen said, complaining there were now 60 superstores oper