Bilal Bashir Bhat
Srinagar, Jul 09: The repeated imposition of Curfew-like restrictions in and around Downtown Srinagar is not only taking a distressing toll on its inhabitants but also lending a helping hand in crushing its rich and traditional business industry.
With 47% of the city’s population, Sher-e-Khas aka Downtown is the most densely populated area of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar city and is considered as heart of the city. However, the whole population including the business establishments, shops and educational institutes remain under hostage for almost every one or two days in a week due to the curfew-like restrictions imposed by the government. Besides 2008-10, 2016 public uprisings the downtown Srinagar remained under restrictions on numerous occasion in 2017-18.
“First Downtown was discriminated on the basis of development, now government under a well-thought out plan is economically crushing us by imposing restrictions almost five days a week,” said president, All Kashmir Traders Federation Shahr-e-Khas, Nazir Ahmad Shah.
The Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led Hurriyat Conference are repeatedly condemning the Curfew Culture in Downtown Srinagar are terming it “direct interference in the religious affairs of people.”
The action of the authorities is vindictive and amount to the direct interference in religious affairs of the people. These means of oppression are used under a well-planned policy to crush the resolve of people besides choking the economy of Downtown Srinagar to punish the people for their unflinching support to the movement,” Hurriyat (M) spokesman earlier said in a statement.
“Downtown has a rich history it was known for its trade activities particularly in Mahraj Gunj area, however, with imposition of repeated restrictions, people prefer to purchase merchandise from other places which has taken a heavy toll on the trade and commerce activities. Restrictions not only hamper our trade but also affect our image within trading circles across Kashmir,” said Adil Ahmad talking to KNB.
The residents of downtown believe due its historical importance, markets and buildings and as a symbol of heritage downtown should be among the hubs of tourists in Kashmir but unfortunately resembles a ghost town with dilapidated conditions of roads, lack of basic amenities like electricity and public transportation especially evening transport is causing huge inconvenience among locals due to the disinterest of the successive governments. (KNB)
Bilal Bashir Bhat