Anantnag: Even as markets in Kashmir are gearing up for peak shopping season ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, the series of grenade attacks in market areas in recent days have made traders and shopkeepers anxious of their business prospects, particularly in south Kashmir.
More than 30 people – 15 of them civilians – have so far been injured in these grenade attacks, carried out by suspected militants since the last week or so.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for at least three of these grenade attacks in statements to a Srinagar-based news agency. The rest of these grenade attacks have, so far, gone unclaimed by any outfit.
Occurring as they are in the holy month of Ramazan, the attacks have created widespread fear and anxiety among people. The business community is bearing the brunt of this fear psychosis, their plans and stocks for Eid now in jeopardy.
“Eid is approaching and this is the one time in the year when we do substantial business. But the grenade attacks have created doubt in the minds of the people and they are showing reluctance in venturing out for shopping,” said Nisar Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Shopian town.
Ahmad said he does not blame the people, for he himself is reluctant to go out and visit his wholesale dealers.
Twelve civilians were today injured in a grenade explosion at midday in a busy market area in Batpora Chowk in Shopian town. “It obviously created fear and uncertainty among the people. Ultimately, the business suffers,” Rayees Bader, a shopkeeper in main town Anantnag, said.
Other shopkeepers that Kashmir Reader talked to expressed hope that they would be able to carry out normal business in the coming days.
“Let’s hope whoever is carrying out these attacks takes a pause, at least, and let people celebrate Eid first,” a trade union president in south Kashmir said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Kashmir Reader talked to a few other trade union leaders in south Kashmir and all of them lamented the effects of such attacks on the market. However, no one wanted to be quoted by name.
Following the grenade attacks, the government forces have increased their “patrols and searches” in most of the markets in south Kashmir, which people say is an added nuisance.
“How will a Rakshak vehicle at the front of my shop help my business?” asked an exasperated shopkeeper in Anantnag.
Other than conducting routine searches and patrols, the police too are looking clueless – much like the general public – as the grenade attacks have refused to stop.
Kashmir Inspector General of Police SP Pani a few days ago had told Kashmir Reader that nocturnal arrests and raids were being carried out in south Kashmir in wake of the grenade attacks.
But these arrests and raids have failed to stem the attacks.
On Monday, Director General of Police SP Vaid told Kashmir Reader that a module in Srinagar has been busted and more modules are being zeroed in on.
“The module that carried out attacks in Srinagar has been busted with some arrests. More such action is expected from other parts as well,” Vaid said.