Decision to close 50 percent market sans logic: Traders

Policeman stands guard during COVID-19 lockdown in Jammu last year. GK File Photo/Mir Imran

Kashmir-based traders and business associations have come down heavily on the government for its decision to close 50 percent of the markets in view of the surge in COVID 19, saying that the decision sans logic.

President, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Muhammad Yaseen Khan while addressing media men said: “first of all the traders were not taken into confidence before announcing this 50 percent closing of markets, this decision is illogical at best as on one hand government says that they won’t impose lockdown, but on the other hand they close half of the shops, isn’t closure of shops lockdown for these businessmen whose shops are closed for three days.”

“While shops are being asked to remain shut, banks, government offices, and transport are operating normally. Everybody wants to contain the spread of COVID, but it should not be done haphazardly. We were not taken into confidence, there was chaos today in the markets,” he said.

“Unchecked travelers who entered Kashmir without any testing led to increase in cases, but to hide their failures the government is imposing lockdown on traders,” Khan said adding that “as per our reports after 6 pm every vehicle entering Kashmir carrying travelers goes without any testing.”

He said that the government decision to close markets on rotation basis will inflict financial miseries on beleaguered Kashmir’s economy which has faced lots of setbacks.

Another trade body, Kashmir Trade Alliance, questioned administration on whether the closure of shops and businesses can curb the spread of Coronavirus.

President, Kashmir Trade Alliance Ajaz Shahdhar said “if indeed the putting shutter down of our shops will help stop COVID then the spread of coronavirus could have been prevented last year. We would not have seen an average of 2,000 corona cases a day in Kashmir.”

He said that last year traders suffered thousands of crores of losses as a result of the lockdown, and the government or the administration did not come forward to help the small shopkeepers.

“Traders are facing a similar situation, which has resulted in huge losses. We already held several meetings with the  Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and District Development Commissioner, Srinagar, and informed them that traders could not afford another lockdown.”

“The administration should now come up with a new plan. He made it clear that COVID could not be controlled by shutter down, And the regulations issued by the health department and experts must be followed”.

Shahdhar advised the government to withdraw the shutter down order and ensure compliance with the regulations to control the COVID virus at the ground level, machinery and staff must be mobilized.

The J&K administration on Tuesday issued slew of measures to contain spread of COVID which includes closing of markets on rotation basis.