Srinagar: The famous Sunday Market remained closed since March this year due to COVID-19 pandemic in Srinagar, where police today prevented several vendors to put up their stalls and also seized some goods.
A group of Sunday Market vendors called on Advisor to Governor Baseer Ahmad Khan on September 22 and appealed to him to allow resumption of their business since they are facing starvation
The administration had announced the closure of all business and other activities in Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, since March this year to prevent spread of COVID-19. However, the lockdown and restriction imposed by the authorities to prevent spread of Coronavirus was lifted in August following which shops and business establishments reopened and passenger traffic resumed. But, at an average of more than 200 people are getting infected due to Coronavirus daily in Srinagar, mainly due to non implementation of Standard Operative Procedure (SOP) by majority of people.
The vendors said if shopkeepers, transporters and tourist places were reopened, ban on weekly Sunday market was not only unjustified but also any attempt to prevent weaker sections of the society to earn livelihood to feed their families.
A large number of vendors from different parts of the city had arrived at different places on three-km-long famous market from Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) to Hari Singh High Street (HSHS), including Residency road, Regal Chowk, Gantaghar and historic Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city. However, they were disallowed and prevented from setting up their stalls by the police.
Some vendors had put up their beds (stalls) in the Makkah market (old bus stand). But, police swung into action and chased them away. Police also seized some goods and umbrellas of these vendors shortly before noon. Similarly some vendors who had arrived at Lal Chowk were also asked to leave.
Shops and other business establishments also remained closed in the civil lines, including Lal Chowk and Budshah chowk as per guidance by the administration. However, on other days these shops and business establishments function on alternate days.
Hundreds of unemployed youth, including graduate and post graduates, used to set up their stalls in the market, every Sunday, attracting thousands of shoppers from different parts of the valley.
Initially the vendors used to sell old local and foreign cloths and shoes. However, vendors later shifted to other trades, selling new cloths, readymade garments, snow shoes. According to an estimate vendors used to do business of several crore every week.
“This time on the year we used to do good business as people used to purchase warm cloths, including blankets, sweaters and snow and other shoes,” the vendors said, adding large number people also used to earn by selling tea and other eatables.
However, due to continued closure of the market for the past seven months, all vendors and those associated with it indirectly were facing starvation, said Fayaz Ahmad Dar, a vendor from Rainawari said.
“I was selling different type of blankets, shawls and other article,” he said, adding ‘we are now doing any work which is offered to us to feed our families’.
The vendors urged administration to allow them to resume their business to earn their livelihood. Majority of us have not paid the tuition fees of their children who were not allowed to appear in the examination, Fayaz Dar said and demanded full concession.