SRINAGAR: Mushtaq Ahmad, an automobile mechanic, waited for around two weeks for a customer inside his shop in abrogated bus stand at Batamaloo but all in vain. To earn livelihood, he along-with his co-worker, Tanveer Ahmad, went to General Bus Stand Parimpora to find a place to work. He returned disappointed.
They did not give up. Leaving the profession they nourished for two decades was not an easy option. While concentrating on doing something else, a strange idea hit the duo—to set-up a mobile workshop. Next, they purchased a worn out van to set their shop. “There was no other way to continue with my profession. We purchased a van and placed all necessary tool kits inside it and began to work here,” Mushtaq told Kashmir Reader.
Mushtaq and Tanveer are not the only mechanics associated with this trade. Couple of days after Mushtaq and Tanveer restarted their work, several mechanics followed the suit. “Those who could afford purchasing old vehicles, began operating in such mobile workshops and those who couldn’t, they bought small iron pushcarts leaving shops at Batamallo,” Mushtaq said.
Shabir Ahmad Baba, another automobile mechanic operates his shop from a pushcart. He believes that decision of relocating abrogated General Bus Stand from Batamloo has hurt everyone especially the mechanics. “Dozens of mechanics work in a similar way I do, but whatever we earn here is not enough to support our families at the time when market rates are touching the sky,” he said adding, “In Batamaloo we used to manage somehow but here our sales have decreased drastically.”
Baba said that les number of buses operates from Parimpora leading to perpetual decline in their business.
He said that abandoning their permanent shops for the mobile workshops has added extra burden on their work. “We have to transport took kit to Parimpora everyday and place it back at Batamaloo in the evening. Every day we spend Rs 200 on transportation of our tool kits,” he said.
The tale is not different for the spare-parts dealers. Mubashir Ahmad Bhat, a dealer told Kashmir Reader that half of the shopkeepers from Batamaloo who deal with automobile spare parts are operating from their personal vehicles. “I had a shop at Batamaloo but no one used to enter inside it since the relocation and when I heard that mechanics are running their trade from vehicles or pushcarts I too decided to run the business in similar manner,” he said.
Bhat claimed to have purchased second hand Maruati 800 car by paying 30000 rupees where he sells several automobile spare-parts including engine oil. “For around two months I did not earn one rupee at Batamaloo and had to rely on savings. When almost everything was finished I did what I was supposed to do for survival,” Bhat said.
Bhat believes that government decision has altered their status and transformed shopkeepers to vendors. “It is humiliating. We have been reduced to petty vendors,” he said.
Bashir Ahmad Bamboo, another dealer said that he owned two shops at Batamaloo and his two sons were helping him run the business. “Mehbooba Mufti’s government destroyed every trader in Batamaloo. I had thought of continuing business from Batamaloo but when some vehicles that arrived there looking for spare parts were seized by police, I changed my decision quickly,” he said.