Day after sealing, authorities reopen shops at Aftab Market

Traders welcome decision
Emotional scenes were witnessed in the city center on Wednesday following sealing of shops at Aftab Market.
Emotional scenes were witnessed in the city center on Wednesday following sealing of shops at Aftab Market.Special arrangement

Srinagar: Day after the administration sealed multiple shops at Aftab Market in city’s commercial hub Lal Chowk here, the shops were reopened on Thursday, giving breather to distressed traders.

Authorities on Wednesday had sealed over 20 shops at Aftab Market in an ongoing drive to clear the state land from encroachment.

Greater Kashmir spoke to multiple trade bodies who welcomed the decision of the administration to reopen the shops.

“When the shops were sealed, we did everything to reach out to administration so that they would look into the issue. Traders are already suffering for years, and such quick decisions will make the issues worse. These shops have been allotted to these shopkeepers years back, and the best possible way should be not to hit livelihood of shopkeepers abruptly,” said Farhan Kitab, President Regal Chowk Traders Association.

The traders said that over the years, political uncertainty, followed by COVID lockdowns, have crippled the business. “In such cases, everything should be taken into consideration before making such decisions,” they said.

President Kashmir Traders Alliance, Aijaz Shahdhar said that he, along with Lal Chowk Traders Association general secretary Sheeraz Ahmad, met Tehsildar South over the sealing of shops at Aftab Market.

“We met the authorities in early morning hours, given the gravity of the situation. The aggrieved shopkeepers made a written representation to the concerned officials, after which shops were opened. We welcome the decision, and we are glad that higher authorities intervened and made this possible. We hope that the livelihood of poor shopkeepers who are already struggling won’t be snatched,” Shahdhar said.

The traders said that multiple traders are associated with one business unit, and it will impact the livelihood of everyone. They said that traders have taken bank loans to keep that business afloat, and those things should be taken into consideration.

Emotional scenes were witnessed in the city center on Wednesday following sealing of shops at Aftab Market. The shopkeepers said they wouldn’t be able to feed their families if their shops were not opened. The shopkeepers thanked the administration post reopening of shops.

“I thank the media which highlighted our issue. The concerned Tehsildar also met us, and we discussed the issue. We are glad that through the administration's intervention, the shops were reopened, and we are back and earning for our families. We had lost all hope, and now we are happy,” said a shopkeeper at Aftab Market.

Over the past few days, the administration said they are tightening the noose around the people who have occupied the state land. Recently many shops and shopping complexes were sealed following the government operation against what they call illegal encroachment.

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