SRINAGAR: Under-construction concrete blocks and piles of rubble greet the visitors at Kashmir Haat here—the exhibition ground that is venue of the ongoing 10th ‘Sale of Articles of Rural Artisans Society (SARAS) Mela’. The place looks scarred.
On the second day of the exhibition, the ground has stalls of art and artifacts all over, set up by self help groups from 19 Indian states and 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. But the buyers are nowhere in sight.
For 45-year-old Jyoti Bunddalmudi, who led her Andhra Pradesh-based 12-women self help group to the exhibition, the absence of customers is disappointing. The group has participated in the exhibition before also, showcasing their collection of handmade bags and decorative items to potential customers from Kashmir—a place known for its crafts. And they, Jyoti says, used to make good money.
“This is our eighth visit to the Valley for selling the handicraft items. But the sales have been a disappointment so far,” she says.
“We used to sell items worth Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 a day. But since yesterday, we haven’t earned more than Rs 300.
“Not many people (customers) come here. And the few who do, don’t buy much. This is unlike the past,” she says.
The disappointment is shared by the other participating artisans most of whom belong to rurul India. They have put on display handmade items such as jewellery, decorative items, textiles, and garments.
On the afternoon of the second day, a man from Gujarat was yet to strike the first deal on his stall of handmade garments, while Iqbal Khan of Banaras, who runs a stall of famous Banaras silk, terms the affair “unimpressive”.
“I have been here earlier also to sell this fabric. But this time the response is cold. The flood seems to have affected the shopping instincts of Kashmiri people,” Khan says.
In a bid to attract customers, the artisans convince the few visitors to spread the word about exhibition. They hope the customer footfall may increase in the days to come, especially over the weekend.