Srinagar: The usual festivities that mark the eve of Eid-ul Azha are missing in Kashmir where markets today wore a deserted look as normal life remain paralysed due to continued protests and shutdown since July.
While a fair number of private vehicles were plying on some roads, especially the city centre Lal Chowk and adjoining areas, shops and business establishments remained closed during day time due to the strike called by separatists.
The massive footfall of customers at bakeries, sweets shops and garment stores, a usual sight on the festival eve, remained missing with all these outlets closed. One of the famous confectionery-cum-bakery on the upmarket Residency Road — Modern Sweets — stuck a poster outside its store reading: ‘No bakery available on Eid’.
Shakti Sweets, which is right next to Modern Sweets, also had its shutters down. However, sale of sacrificial animals is going on at many places in the city. “Our sale is around 10 per cent of what it used to be on the eve of Eid-ul Azha. I do not think there is any chance of it picking up with less than 24 hours left for the festivities,” Altaf Ahmad, a livestock dealer, said.
The separatist groups have urged people to observe Eid with austerity. Normal life in Kashmir Valley has been badly affected since July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir. As many as 76 persons, including two cops, have been killed and thousands others injured in clashes with security forces over the past 65 days.
Authorities are expected to strengthen the security, which might include imposing curfew and restrictions in parts of Kashmir, tomorrow to foil the separatist plan to march to the local office of the United Nations Military Observers Group to seek implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir.
The separatists have called the rally to coincide with the 71st session of UN General Assembly which begins in New York tomorrow.
As the separatists have been relaxing the shutdown in evening hours on most of the days, shoppers are expected to turn up in the markets later in the day. However, groups of youth have been fanning out in different markets and forcing shutdown during the relaxation period in the past.
These activities of the youths prompted even hardline Hurriyat Conference to issue a statement, asking people to follow the protest programme in letter and spirit.
“Hurriyat has taken a strong note of some youths compelling the shopkeepers for shutdown during the relaxation time. Hurriyat has clarified once again that this period is part of the programme and is meant to get the essential commodities … whosoever violates the joint programme is not a well wisher,” Hurriyat said yesterday.