Srinagar: Authorities have closed a recently-opened market meant to rehabilitate street vendors in the heart of the city here, with the hawkers alleging that they were not given any prior notice.
Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, president of the Street Vendors Association, alleged that the action was taken out of vendetta as they had refused to open the market during the unrest, a charge rejected by ruling PDP MLA Altaf Bukhari who claimed that the hawkers were raising illegal structures.
Makkah market opened in May this year after the state government allotted space at SRTC yard near the famous Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) here to rehabilitate street vendors was closed by police and officials from Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) on Friday.
The vendors claimed no notice was served to them by the authorities to vacate the space.
“We were not told anything. No notice was served. We were home due to the strike when some of our friends informed us of the action by police. They closed the market,” Bhat said.
He also questioned the motive behind the step.
“Some weeks ago police asked me to open the market but I refused. It is because of my refusal to toe their line they are doing this. This is sheer vendetta,” he said.
However, Bukhari who is a former minister rubbished the allegations, saying the vendors were trying to raise “illegal structures” which will not be allowed at any cost.
“… They are not supposed to raise any sheds there. This action was against that,” Bukhari told PTI.
The former minister said the police did not take any goods from the market as they were no items there because of the strike since the last about two months.
“There were only beds. There has been a strike since about two months, the market has been closed. They are lying,” he said on allegations by hawkers that their goods were taken away.
Normal life remained paralysed for the 57th day in the Valley since Hizbul Mujahideen militant was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir on July 8.
On vendors being “pressurised” to open their stalls during strike, Bukhari said no one would pressure any one to open their business in these circumstances.
“However, why were they not opening their stalls during the relaxation time. What were they busy in?,” he questioned.
The PDP leader said Bhat is a worker of the party and he should have taken his grievances to the party office.
“Also, I am always available to them and I can take them to meet the chief minister for any grievance,” he added.