Srinagar: With just few days left for Eid-ul-Azha, the famous Sunday market in the heart of the summer capital, Srinagar, was abuzz with customers as the 3-km-long bazaar was reopened after remaining closed for about four months due to Coronavirus-induced restrictions.
Hundreds of vendors have put up their stalls in the weekly flea market from Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) to Hari Singh High Street (HSHS), including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital. However, the number of people who have turned up to make purchases in the market is still less as compared to huge gatherings of customers in the past during festive season.
The continuous closure of the famous market, which attracts customers from across Kashmir valley, since March this year and for eight months in 2020, had badly affected to vendors, who claim that they have incurred losses to the tune of crores of rupees. “We were finally allowed to put up our stalls after about four months ahead of Eid. But, the administration should allow us to open the market even after the festive season. We will follow all the guidelines issued by the administration,” Tahir Ahmad, a vendor, told UNI.
Another vendor, Shabir Ahmad said that majority of the vendors were facing starvation while some were working as labourers to feed their families. “Now that the market has been reopened, we are hopeful that customers will come to make purchases and we will be able earn our livelihood,” he said.
He said the vendors suffered in 2019 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 2020 only to be eased after eight months in October. “The markets were again closed in March this year leading to extreme hardships to the vendors,” he added.
He said the 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.
This is the first time that the Sunday market is open ahead of any Eid since August 5, 2019. The closure of the weekly flea market during festive season since 2019 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 was closed on March in view of COVID-induced restrictions imposed in J&K to curtail the spread of the virus. The market used to attract 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.