Three days of life in mall; Fasna’s issues unresolved

Deceived by Mahila Mall management, says entrepreneur

It has been three days since Fasna Ashraf from Poovattuparamba started living in Mahila Mall in the city.

She claims she has no where to go after she was evicted from her rented accommodation as she failed to pay the rent for 11 months. “This shop room ‘Nilave’ is my only asset now. I have invested everything I have into this shop. For me, its either this or the street,” she told The Hindu, while her 13-year-old younger daughter just listened.

Fasna, a divorcee with two daughters, is one of those women entrepreneurs, who claim to have been cheated by the very idea of Mahila Mall. “I had a successful stitching unit, which I sold to start this shop. I could run the shop barely for a month before which I had a tiff with the management over the electricity bill and they cut my connection. I could not run a shop without power and hence, I opted to quit. But they refused to return my advance payment in full and I approached court,” Fasna explained.

Fasna knocked on every available door, like the Labour Office, the District Legal Services Authority and even the police for justice, but claims to have been disappointed. Her shop remained closed for one and half years.

She claims that the management had sealed it with a different lock and refused to allow her entry even to retrieve her stock.

Post-lockdown, she joined the other entrepreneurs in a strike demanding to reopen the mall, which, after much negotiations, succeeded. Fasna was allowed access to her shop along with the other entrepreneurs, upon which she realised that a large amount of her stock was missing. Her complaints fell on deaf ears, she says.

After her eviction from the rented house, Fasna moved into Mahila Mall with her daughters on Monday. Several political parties offered her support and even held dharnas on her behalf. “I know that they are planning to use me for their political benefit, in view of the forthcoming election. I don’t want to be their pawn. They can not help me in any manner,” Fasna said.

On the other hand, the Mahila Mall management, the Unity Group of Kudumbashree, claims that Fasna had no claim to the room that she says is her asset. “She has not paid the rent for even one month or the electricity charge. Her contract expired long back and she has not renewed it. Then how can she claim that room?” questioned Vijaya K., secretary of the group, adding that she had enough evidence to prove every claim made by Fasna wrong.

Meanwhile, Fasna claims she had incurred debts of ₹10 lakh in the name of ‘Nilave’. “I want some form of compensation so that I can restart my life and pay off the debts. I hope the authorities will listen this time,” she says.

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