September 2018 News

Kashmir Markets Resume Normal Business After 10 Days

1 September 2018
Greater Kashmir
Saqib Malik

Srinagar: Kashmir markets on Saturday witnessed normal and uninterrupted trading activities for the first time after 10 days since August 21 as Eid holidays and uncertainty due to hearing of Article 35-A in the Supreme Court had kept shoppers away and even markets closed on most of the days. As hearing for the case regarding Article 35-A was deferred to January 19 next year by the Supreme Court, people in Kashmir whose various plans have been hit heaved a temporary sense of relief. Before Saturday's normal trading day, last day of full-fledged business was witnessed on eve of Eid-ul-Adha on August 21 when shoppers in large numbers had thronged markets across the Valley. The uncertainty in situation had also hit hundreds of weddings that were either called off or marked with utmost simplicity by the hosts. While most of markets across Kashmir were closed due to Eid celebrations from August 22-24, uncertainty due to Article 35-A also saw business activity come to a standstill on several days including that of complete shutdowns and restrictions on August 30, 31. On August 27 markets across the Valley had witnessed a spontaneous shutdown due to hearing of a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court regarding Article 35-A. Traders who have been vocal to safeguard Article 35-A have even hit the streets for last several months. Even though resumption of normal business activities has been welcomed by traders, Kashmir Inc has said it is ready to 'sacrifice everything' to protect the special status of the state. 'Uncertainty over Article 35-A had caused deep slump in festive and wedding markets. Eid was low key this year and many weddings were cancelled which had hit the business. But we hope there is normal trading activity during next 3-4 months,' Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation said. A liquidity crunch along with uncertainty over fate of Article 35-A had caused a deep slump in the Kashmir markets as footfall at showrooms has witnessed a major drop. Popular sectors such as readymade, footwear, decorations and home durables are not finding many takers at present as most people have held back their buying decisions. 'The fact that only Rs 355 crore were withdrawn from ATMs from August 18 to 21 as compared to Rs 550 crore during same period in 2017 was an indication that cash flow in the market was quite less this time around. Amid political confusion and uncertainty, we witnessed one of the worst phases of business in Kashmir. But we hope deferment of Article 35-A will lift the sentiment among both traders and shoppers and help businesses rebound,' said Khan. Farhan Kitab, chief spokesperson of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation said the market which have been 'gloomy' is expected to show some improvement if 'prevailing situation witnesses improvement,' Kitab said traders are offering wedding season offers to shoppers to attract maximum footfall.