Indian-Origin Newsstand Operator In US Hit With Over Rs 76 Lakh In Fines

Indian-Origin Newsstand Operator In US Hit With Over Rs 76 Lakh In Fines

A GoFundMe campaign has been initiated to support the 59-year-old.

A 59-year-old Indian-origin man in New York is selling papers like an old-school newsboy after the city slapped him with fines and shuttered the newsstand he has operated for 23 years. According to the New York Post, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) slapped Sadik Topia, an Indian immigrant from Gujarat, with a staggering $92,000 (over Rs 76 lakh) in fines, citing various violations and closed his kiosk on West 79th Street and Broadway on November 7. “The city says they support community, small businesses and the economy – but they’re killing me,” Mr Topia told the outlet. 

According to the Post, the 59-year-old faces a fine for allegedly selling e-cigarette products without a valid license, improper shelves in the newsstand and violating city rules by selling phone chargers for $30 instead of the allowed amount of less than $10. 

Mr Topia has been fined $58,400 for selling e-cigarettes after his licence expired in December 2021. He was fined $100 per day for 584 days – between the day his license expired and July 12, 2023, when there was a hearing about the violation. He also owes $34,000 for having improper shelves in the kiosk and selling a phone charger for $30 despite the city’s $10 limit. 

However, Mr Topia contested, arguing that he only sold items without a license for 13 days. “They tell me to take the shelves down, I take them down immediately. I removed e-cigarettes immediately,” he recalled. “I like it here, I have been here for 23 years and I work hard. If they can reduce the fines, I can get my license back and everything will be clear and I will be okay,” he said.

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Mr Topia is now selling papers to his loyal customers every morning. He makes his way to the Upper West Side to personally sell the papers on the streets. His customers, deeply upset by his exile, also attest to his dedication. “He’s working in this freezing weather. It’s ridiculous and it’s just inhumane,” Ann MacDougall, a regular customer, told the outlet. Another loyal customer, 77-year-old Carol, added, “He’s the greatest guy, and it’s just so unfair what’s happening to him”. 

Meanwhile, Mr Topia’s plight has caught the attention of city officials, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who pledged to “look into” his fines and assist him in reopening his newsstand. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer also wrote to DCWP, urging them to lower Topia’s penalties.

Moreover, a GoFundMe campaign has been initiated to support the 59-year-old. With over $2,400 raised so far, the campaign aims to reach a goal of $67,450.

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