Srinagar, Aug 1: After over four months of its closure in view COVID-19 induced lockdown, weekly flea market popularly known as ‘Sunday Market’, re- opened for business on Sunday with shoppers thronging in large numbers.
Hundreds of vendors sold different items, including sweaters and other warm clothes, blankets, utensils, shawls and carpets, in the market.
The vendors put up stalls on the TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through the Lal Chowk city centre here. Officials said the vendors maintained social distancing and followed other precautions and COVID standard operating procedures (SOPs)
They market opened after the authorities withdrew the weekend Corona curfew from Srinagar. However officials said that stakeholders have assured authorities that they will ensure strict compliance of the pandemic guidelines.
Abdul Qadeer one of shoppers said that Sunday market not only caters to shoppers from various sections of society but is also a means of sustenance for hundreds of vendors. “The reopening of the market is really a welcome step,” he said adding that shopper as well as vendors should follow COVID-19 guidelines.
Even as the lockdown was lifted and the other markets of Kashmir reopened gradually, the flea market continued to remain shut as the authorities apprehended shoppers in busy market can spread Virus easily.
Instead of the usual hustle and bustle of festive shoppers, the Sunday market used to wore a deserted look as all the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, Srinagar, remained sealed with authorities seeking cooperation from the public to curtail the spread of COVID-19 by strictly adhering to the lockdown.
The closure of the flea market had left people, particularly economically weaker sections of the society, with no option but to purchase the goods from open market at exorbitant rates.
Business worth crores of rupees was done every week in the market in which goods, ranging from a hairpin to carpets, were sold at economical rates.
“We have not been allowed to put up our stalls in the flea market for about six months in view of COVID curfew. We understand that it was the need of the hour, but the government should have made some kind of arrangement for our livelihood,” one of the Sunday market vendors said.
He said that they hardly did any business since August 2019. “The Sunday market was closed for several months after abrogation of Article 370. In 2020, we opened the market for few weeks and then it was again closed in March due to COVID pandemic. In 2021, we were allowed to put up stalls for a few weeks and then again we were directed to close it in April coronavirus cases surged. We are finding it difficult to sustain and carry on with our lives,” he added.