Downtown Srinagar victim of frequent restrictions » Kashmir Media Service

Srinagar, October 20 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the residents of downtown Srinagar have said that the frequent imposition of curfews in the area has severely affected people of all ages and professions.

A group of residents from Nowhatta told a local English daily Greater Kashmir that imposition of curbs in downtown is nothing new, but since the 2008 uprising, the successive regimes have made it like a compulsory feature to stop mass gatherings and protests. The worst-hit, the residents said, are once-bustling markets of Maharaj Gunj, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Hawal and Khanyar that have lost all sheen over the years.

As per the official figures, downtown areas remained under restrictions for 32 days this year while congregational Friday prayers were disallowed at historic Jamia Masjid 15 times during this period.

Before 1990, the downtown markets would witness business worth Rs 10 crore a day, according to local traders. This figure has marginally grown to Rs 25 crore given the market trends.

“Imagine Rs 10 crore business a day 28 years ago. This indicates that the business transactions today should have touched around Rs 100 crore a day,” said Nazir Ahmed Shah, Chairman of Shahr-e-Khass Traders’ Coordination Committee. He said given the frequent curbs in downtown, especially since 2008, the shopkeepers have sacked most of their salesmen. “In the past few years, more than 200 salesmen working at various shops in downtown areas were asked to choose other ways of earning their livelihood due to downfall in businesses,” he added.

Since curbs are mostly imposed on Fridays to bar congregational payers at historic Jamia Masjid, the local residents said that the restrictions were hurting the religious sentiments of people across occupied Kashmir.

“Jamia Masjid is a religious and spiritual centre for people who come from far off places to offer Friday prayers here,” said a spokesman of Jamia’s Anjuman-e-Auqaf that looks after management of the masjid affairs.

Nisar Ali, the Vice-President of Shahr-e-Khas Traders Coordination Committee, said, “The education of our children has suffered a lot due to restrictions. Forces don’t allow our kids to even play on roads, let alone go to schools on restriction days.” He said that his son missed two papers as he couldn’t attend his school due to recent curbs.

Besides, elderly people have developed serious health issues, mostly respiratory problems, due to firing of pepper and PAVA shells by Indian forces’ personnel, he added.

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