October 12, 2020

Hundreds of vendors continue to suffer as Sunday market in Srinagar remains closed

Katra Town of Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday gives deserted look as markets remain closed due to closure of yatra to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine. UNI

Srinagar: Hundreds of vendors continued to suffer as the famous 3-km-long Sunday Market in the heart of the Srinagar city remained closed since March in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Makkah market, a small flea market, less than 100 meters from famous Ganta Ghar in Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, witnessed heavy rush of customers.

Majority of vendors are facing starvation while some are working as labourers to feed their families, the vendors alleged.

Hundreds of vendors used to sell different items, including sweaters and other warm clothes, blankets, utensils, shawls and carpets, in the market. The 3-km-long Sunday market from Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) to Hari Singh High Street (HSHS), including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, Srinagar, was deserted as vendors were not allowed to put up their stalls in the market in the city.

The continuous closure of the famous market, which attracts customers from across Kashmir valley, has badly affected to vendors, who claim that they have incurred losses to the tune of crores of rupees. “The administration should issue separate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to operate Sunday market which provides livelihood to thousands of families,” said a vendor Bilal Ahmad, a resident of Khanyar, who used to sell shawls and other warm clothes at the market.

“We are ready to implement any SOP and other instructions to operate the market, which was attracting customers from different parts of the valley,” he added.

Another vendor Tahir Hussain said that the vendors suffered last year due to curfew after August 5 when centre abrogated special status of the erstwhile state. But, he said, when things were returning to normal, restriction due to COVID-19 were imposed by the administration in March this year.

He said government should come forward and help vendors who are registered.

Similar views were expressed by other vendors, who used to put up stalls in the market.

The closure of the weekly flea market since March in the heart of the city had left people, particularly economically weaker section of the society, with no option but to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha without new clothes and other items, otherwise available in the market in reasonable rates.

The weekly flea market remained closed since March 8, about three weeks before J&K witnessed its first COVID-19-related death. The market used to attracts thousands of customers from different parts of the Valley. Business worth crores of rupees was done every week in the market in which goods, ranging from a hairpin to carpets, were sold on economical rates.

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