Ramadan buzz vanishes quickly from Srinagar markets, streets after Iftaar

Ramadan buzz vanishes quickly from Srinagar markets, streets after Iftaar

Srinagar: The familiar ebb and flow that markets of the city see during Ramadan is here once again: bustle during the day that fades quickly when the time for Iftaar approaches. Customers as well as shopkeepers rush home to break the fast with their families, and then stay home, a dawn-to-dusk routine followed strictly ever since the security situation worsened in the valley.
Unlike other Muslim-majority cities around the world, the streets of Srinagar city wear deserted scenes after the Iftaar hours. During the day, however, traffic jams are a common sight, especially in the downtown and near major markets.
Most of the shopkeepers at markets in Lal Chowk, Maharaj Bazar, Maharaj Gunj, Bohri Kadal, Zaina Kadal and Nowhatta close their shops before 8pm. According to traders, the idea of evening and night markets is not possible in Kashmir given the security situation and lack of facilities like transport, parking places, and electricity.
“Traders are not willing to open shops during evening hours. We tried it in 2017 but people were completely disinterested in shopping during evening hours,” said Kashmir Economic Alliance chairman Yaseen Khan.
He said the main reason for the disinterest was the turbulent political and security situation in Kashmir. “We are willing to start evening markets again but we need support from the government and the people,” Khan said.
Some years ago, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had made an appeal to the traders’ fraternity to keep their shops open during evening and night hours in the holy month of Ramadan. Only a few shops in Nowhatta area, which is Mirwaiz’s bastion, remained open for some hours in the evening.
“It’s quite difficult for us to change our routine, especially when there is no support from the government,” said Zahid Reshi, a shopkeeper in Maharaj Bazar.
He said the security situation also keeps him and his fellow shopkeepers away from the market. “We can’t open shops in absence of people. Our business faces losses in that situation,” Reshi said.
Fayaz Ahmad, another shopkeeper in the downtown, said the situation in 1990s badly affected business in the Valley. Extending the working hours, without any customers, would mean further losses.
“Which is why we don’t endorse the idea,” he said. “If the government brings forward some plan, we can think in this regard.”