Festive mood of Eid-ul-Adha, which will be celebrated after two days, eludes Choodi Bazaar in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Most of the shopkeepers at this exclusively women oriented shopping centre in Pulwama’s main market claim their customers have started moving to Srinagar and adjacent districts for purchases, which has taken a heavy toll on their business.
Around 20 shopkeepers here deal in items like scarves, hosiery, cosmetics, bangles, jewellery and perfumes.
Since 2007 this shopping centre became very famous among female shoppers who used to throng here ahead of Eid from Anantnag, Shopian, Pampore and Srinagar.
Ahead of Eid this market used to wear a festive look with shoppers making big purchases.
“30 days prior to Eid, we had to place advance orders on daily basis,” said Javid Ahmad, a shopkeeper at Choodi Bazaar, Pulwama, adding that sales were so high that most items used to get depleted each day.
The shopkeepers at the Bazaar said that this year their sales were badly hit due to frequent shutdowns and encounters in the area which have created a fear among shoppers.
Nilofar, a shopper said that she has been purchasing cosmetics, stoles and scarves from Choodi Bazaar from past many years.
“Here you get good quality products on reasonable rates,” she said, adding that she can choose her items from wide range of variety.
However, frequent shutdowns, encounters and subsequent stone pelting incidents have caused fear in her as she has stopped frequenting the market.
“I always check before hand if everything is normal in Pulwama market then only I visit here,” she said, adding that she doesn’t want to put her life at risk.
“Most of shoppers now prefer to move to Srinagar and other places,” Javid said, adding that their sales on this festive season were like sales on normal days.
Abdul Qayoom, another shopkeeper at Choodi Bazaar said that the prevailing uncertainty has hit his business badly.
Qayoom has a wife and two school going children. His shop is his only source of income.
“This season the sales were down by 75 percent”, he said, adding that low sales has impacted his family members who were pushed to live from hand to mouth.
The low sales have forced many shopkeepers to lay off their staff. Javid said that ahead of Eid he used to hire two sales men but this season he had to lay them off after sales failed to pick up.