Srinagar’s Sunday market buzzes on ‘normal’ day

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SRINAGAR - After more than four months, life remained normal for two consecutive days across the Kashmir Valley and the weekly Sunday market here drew large crowds as authorities did not clamp curfew and there was no shutdown call by the separatists.

“No curfew has been imposed anywhere in the Valley today (Sunday). There are restrictions in Pattan and Delina towns of Baramulla district only,” a senior police officer said.

Hardline separatist group headed by Syed Ali Geelani also asked people to continue routine activities as per the fresh 10-day long protest calendar issued by it that is effective from Sunday.

Geelani’s protest calendar had asked for ‘normalcy’ Saturday as well.

“During the last few months, I hardly remember two days passing off normally without any protest shutdown called by the separatists and the authorities not imposing curfew here,” said Shams-ud-Din, a 54-year-old retired government employee.

The ‘Sunday market’, one of the major attractions in uptown Srinagar city, drew a large number of buyers, who were seen haggling with the pavement sellers for woollens and other winter clothes.

Scores of daily bread earners spread their merchandise in city centre Lal Chowk and the Residency Road areas on Sundays, selling almost everything including old books, auctioned crockery, woollens, imported jackets, electronic goods, shoes, toys and quilts.

The ‘Sunday market’ opens only once a week and, therefore, the sellers have to earn enough to sustain their families for seven days. They were one of the worst hit in the unrest that begin June 11.

“I have suffered the worst during the last four months. It is difficult to put in words what I have done to save my family from starvation,” said Farooq Ahmad, a pavement seller in the uptown Sunday market.

“I have to engage a load carrier for carrying goods from my home in Old City Srinagar to uptown Lal Chowk every Sunday. Though I didn’t engage the load carrier for many Sundays because of either shutdowns or curfew, I have not earned enough even to pay the load carrier owner during the last three months,” the 45-year-old said.

“We must not have worked for more than four days during this period,” he rued.

As many as 110 people have died in clashes between violent mobs and security forces in the over four-month long unrest in the Valley. Hundreds of protesters and security forces have also been injured during this period.

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