Frenzied Shoppers Throng Markets On Eid Eve

Inflated prices give lie to Govt claims

SRINAGAR: Ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, markets across Kashmir particularly in Srinagar are in full swing while frenzied shoppers have ignored all the requests and appeals from the social and religious groups to observe Eid with austerity. 

Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of thanksgiving marking the end of holy month of Ramzan, is likely to be held on July 18, depending on the sighting of the New Moon.

The financial crunch the state government is facing is believed to have somewhat dampened the festivities.

Most of the casual labourers across Kashmir Valley have not received salaries from past many months. “I have nothing in my pocket. I am confused what to offer my children and parents,” said a casual labour working in Sindh Forest Division Ganderbal. 

However many do not agree. Markets are full of edibles, including mutton, poultry, eggs and festive merchandise like firecrackers and toys for children, garments for families and jewellery for the women. 

"I saw people literally hanging from mutton shops in the city to buy mutton while it is still two days to Eid. The mutton sellers are sitting like monarchs across their chopping blocks. Bakery sellers are passing on loads of bakery to buyers who have no time to check goods before they part with their money. Believe me, it must be taking the mint more time to print currency than it takes the bakery seller to pocket it in Srinagar on Eid eve," said a businessman.

However typical of celebration times in Srinagar, buyers were forced to pay inflated prices for different items while they griped over government failure to ensure fair prices of essential commodities during festive seasons.

In such a situation, the oft-repeated claims of the state government that market checking squads have been deployed to keep prices with reasonable limits is widely seen as a joke.

"What market checking are they doing? I moved everywhere in Civil Lines area. I found two adjacent shops pricing the same stuff differently," complained Muhammad Abbas, a lecturer by profession.

Though consumer affairs and public distribution department issued price lists of essential commodities and got these published in local newspapers and put in place checking squads, official price lists were observed more in breach.

As against the state administration's retail price of mutton at Rs.310 per kg and poultry at Rs.100 per kg, meat was sold at Rs.400 and poultry at Rs.130 per kg everywhere in the city. Similarly, other essential commodities were sold at inflated prices.

Abbas said buying fruit was out of question for the ordinary citizen as fruit prices were already sky high.

"Unscrupulous shopkeepers know how to deal with consumers. They first create artificial scarcity and then charge at will," said Javed Shah, 48, outside a shop selling cheese in Lal Bazar.

Long queues were seen outside some wellknown bakery shops in the city.

"My wife said I must buy bakery from this shop only. I think I will have to spend the entire day to fulfill her wish," remarked Shabir Farash, 41, as he tried hard to make his way to the front of baker's shop in uptown Srinagar city.

Traffic police faced tough time regulating throngs of people as well as vehicles in the city, with frequent jams reported across the city.

On the eve of Eid, provincial administration issued a traffic diversion plan to decongest the city centre and other busy markets.

——-With Inputs From Agencies

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