SRINAGAR: Once again the buzz is absent in Kashmir Valley ahead of Eid ul-Azha. On Monday, the day of Dar-e-Arfa, two days before the Eid, when there used to be rush everywhere, the day passed like any other day.
Lal Chowk and Zaina Kadal, the two busiest places in the capital during the festival, were bereft of any Eid activity. From Radio Kashmir road till Batamaloo, a stretch of over 30 kms, traffic plied casually, there were no traffic jams, no queues of transport carriers, no crowds around vendors, clothes shops, bakeries.
“I don’t see it anywhere,” said Ghulam Nabi, a 72-year-old resident of the old city. “This is for another year that life is dead ahead of Eid. What Eid brings with it is happiness. There is none this year, and therefore, no activity.”
Ahead of Eid, the authorities have re-imposed almost all forms of the restrictions which had been put in place for Covid control earlier in the city.
“Markets opened but the buyers were mostly absent, even in the city’s business hub Lal Chowk. It does not feel like Eid is just two days away,” Nabi added.
Goni Khan Market was an exception, where shoppers, particularly women, showed up in large numbers to buy cosmetics, jewellery and apparels. But traders say it was nothing compared to the usual Eid rush.
“We had to restock our merchandise on past Eids, but this time our stock has not even run out,” a trader at the market said.
Businessmen speak of losses suffered due to the slump in the market. For the head of the largest representative body of traders — Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) — Muhammad Yaseen Khan, all types of businesses including of sacrificial animals, poultry, bakery, clothing, saw 90 percent less sales compared to the previous years.
Sacrificial animals were only available at select places, after an order from the government, but there, too, the sales were not much. This reporter spoke to a number of animal sellers at many places in the city. They told him the same story.
“I had 50 sheep, of which 20 have been sold. The rest remain. I used to be free two days before Eid. This time, the story is different,” Ghulam Muhammad, a shepherd from a far-flung area of Budgam, said.