SRINAGAR – Many markets in the city, including Lal Chowk, had been witnessing some life every morning for three hours after traders decided to ease self imposed shutdown last week to allow people to buy essentials.
Shops would open their shutters at 6 AM and down them at 9 AM sharp for the day as the deal time would come to an end.
However on Thursday the shops remained shut leaving hundreds of people who had arrived in Lal Chowk during wee hours disappointed.
“We were doing some business for about three hours every morning before shutting our shops again for the day,” the shopkeepers, waiting outside their shops at Lal Chowk said.
“Today we as usual arrived here only to be told not to open shops,” they said.
Since this is a marriage season in Kashmir, customers were purchasing wedding suits and other necessary articles, they said.
Customers, including women and children, who had come early in the morning from different parts of the city and outskirts, said that they were very disappointed due to closure of shops. “We learnt that shops will not open today only after reaching here,” the customers from the down town said.
Shopkeepers said some national media channels had claimed on Wednesday that life had returned to normal in Lal Chowk and adjoining areas with shops and business establishments functioning. “This is totally incorrect as business and other activities remained paralysed during the day,” they said, adding ‘we were functioning just for about three hours in the morning’.
“The same media was asking people not to visit Kashmir when the situation was normal in summer,” they said, adding even Governor Satya Pal Malik also hit out at national media for wrongly projecting Kashmir situation before August 5.
“Now the national media is saying that situation is normal when there has been a strike for the past 46 days in the valley,” the shopkeepers said.
According to Javaid Ahmad, a roadside vendor, “The morning time was the only time available for me to earn some bucks. When the clock ticks 9, the halt would returns within no time.”
Abdur Rashid, a shopper, who lives at Habba Kadal area of Srinagar, said that he wakes up early morning with an only aim of reaching the main market at 7 am to stock the essentials. “I buy vegetables and other items for myself and my other relatives as well,” he said.
The main vegetable markets at HabbaKadal, KaniKadal, Chattabal, FatehKadal, Chotabazar, and other adjoining areas come alive with honks and loud noises of vendors, who sell vegetables of all types.
“I want to sell my stuff early to reach home back on time. I don’t want to risk my life by remaining at the market after 9 am too,” Gulzar Ahmed, a resident of Budgam, who sells vegetables at the busy market of Chotta bazar area of Kani Kadal said.
These markets close at 9 am with a loud sound of a fire-cracker which is a message to the people and vendors to close the market. “This has been happening at these markets since past many weeks,” said an eye-witness.
“However after TV channels projected this small activity as normalcy it is now difficult to even leave this outlet open for public living virtually under siege for last more than a month now,” said Ghulam Hassan Mir, a resident of Hawal.
Normal life has remained crippled in the Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, since August 5 when centre scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded its status from a state into two union territories.