Srinagar: A new system has come about on the streets of Srinagar after the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status last month. Shops open for a few hours in the morning and then close during the day only to open again briefly in the evenings. It is during this time that the markets of Srinagar are seen buzzing with customers.
“This is a peaceful way to protest against the abrogation of Article 370”, said Mushtaq Ahmad who runs a vegetable shop in Karan Nagar, Srinagar.
In the past, there has been a series of long drawn agitations and street protests in Kashmir which were guided by separatist leadership with shutdown calls and protest calendars. Now with the separatists arrested and a communication blackout in place there is no call for a shutdown yet as Kashmir remains closed during the day.
“Shutdown is a reaction against the revocation of Article 370”, said Mehboob Ahmad, a fruit seller near Hyderpora.
In Srinagar, public transport is off the roads and only private cars are seen plying. The density of private transport is more in the upper areas of the city while it is thinned down in more volatile places like the old Srinagar city or downtown. The situation is similar in areas of South Kashmir like Pulwama and Shopian where there is a complete shutdown during the day.
But while shops remain closed, street vendors have started operations in some places.
“I have got a limited quantity of vegetables for selling, I don’t want to put up a big stall”, said Farooq Ahmad, a vegetable vendor in Batmalloo. The government says action will be taken against those who force people not to open their shops.
“We are also conscious of the fact that there seems to be an attempt by militants or anti-nationals or mischievous elements to force people not to open their shops, I think a strong note has been taken about it, whenever there is an attempt to force people to act in a particular direction, action will be taken”, Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said.