SRINAGAR: The simplicity and austerity with which people in Kashmir are preparing for the festival of Eid-ul-Azha this year is unprecedented. In the worst years of counter-insurgency in the 1990s, after the massive street protests in 2008 and 2010, and after the devastating 2014 September floods, Kashmir had seen a 25-percent dip in business activity that usually preceded the sacrificial festival, but this year business activity has plunged by 80 percent, according to the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF).
“Business is at the lowest ebb these days. It is for the first time that there is no business activity. The only reason is people’s preference of observing Eid with simplicity. We are only doing 10 to 20 percent of usual business,” president of the KTMF, Mohammad Yaseen Khan, said.
Life in the Valley has been locked in a giant prison since July 8, when young militant Burhan Wani was killed. The last time markets in Kashmir were fully open was on the third day after Eid-ul-Fitr (festival celebrated after the fast of Ramzan). In the past 62 days, 76 civilians have been killed and more than 8,000 injured. All business establishments have remained closed on the call of the united pro-freedom leadership, except on days when they are allowed to open after 6pm. The Economic and Political Weekly, a renowned academic journal of India, has written that barring the Indian north-east, this kind of prolonged curfew is practically unknown in India.
“For us the business losses hold no meaning. The martyrs, the injured, and the uprising are our concern. Days of business come and go but lives don’t. Our hearts bleed when we look at the injured in hospitals. There is no reason to celebrate Eid because it means being happy, which we are not. Our support to the joint resistance leadership’s programme will continue,” Khan said.
On Eid-ul-Azha, Muslims sacrifice animals, mostly goats or sheep. Separate markets come up for buying and selling the animals. This year, with just four days to go for the festival, animals being traded are a rare sight in the city. Bakery items, traditionally consumed in plenty during the festival, have no takers either. The markets are open only for three hours, that too on particular days when the shutdown is allowed a “relaxation”.
General secretary of the All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealer Association, Menhraj Ganie, told Kashmir Reader that during the ten days leading up to Eid-ul-Azha, between 1000 and 1500 trucks carrying four lakh sacrificial animals were sold every year.
“But these days, we sell only four to five trucks of animals. This number would further dip if any other killing takes place. There is no demand for mutton consumption. We have no prior orders like we used to have in the past,” Mehraj said.