Restrictions aimed at economically crushing Downtown: Traders
Government's practice to frequently impose restrictions in Downtown is taking a distressing toll on businesses there, with traders accusing authorities of imposing curbs under "a conspiracy to economically crush people of Old City".
As per officials, out of five days in this week, there were restrictions on two days, Wednesday and Friday. While there were no restrictions on other parts of Srinagar, the areas falling under the jurisdiction of five police stations – Khanyar, Nowhatta, Rainawari, MR Gunj and Safakadal, were under siege even on Friday with police and paramilitary forces patrolling the streets.
"First Downtown was discriminated on the basis of development, now government under a well-thought out plan is economically crushing us by imposing restrictions almost five days a week," said president, All Kashmir Traders Federation Shahr-e-Khas, Nazir Ahmad Shah.
"Businesses in Downtown are under fiscal distress as due to these restrictions our working days have been curtailed, coupled with uncertainty which looms large over businesses," Shah explained saying "restrictions are not only causing them business losses, but also taking away their prospective clients."
"Earlier Downtown was known for its trade activities, but now people prefer to purchase merchandise from other places which has taken a heavy toll on the trade and commerce activities. Restrictions not only hamper our trade but also affect our image within trading circles," he said.
"Despite restrictions, we have to pay bank interests on time, which not only discourages young entrepreneurs but also has broken the back of traders financially," he said adding that many traders have decided to shift their business establishments to other places.
Similarly, the young entrepreneurs who instead of running after government jobs have started their own ventures are also feeling the heat of government imposed curbs.
"On one hand government urges youth to start up their own ventures, but on the other side, it dooms their initiatives by mindless tactics," said Ajaz Ahmad, who runs a garment store near historic Jamia Masjid in Downtown.
"We (youth) of old city are caught between devil and deep sea. If we raise our genuine concerns, we are being brandished as drug addicts by politicians," he said adding that, "my business has suffered enormous losses and I am now planning to shut it down." Due to restrictions, the inhabitants of Downtown are also stressed. "Government announces restrictions, but these curbs are worse than curfew. We are not allowed to venture out, besides education of our children gets affected. While their classes are operational, but children in Downtown are not able to attend schools and college," said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Gojwara.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mushtaq Ahmad denounced the restrictions in Downtown.
" It is unfortunate that the inhabitants and businessmen belonging to historic Downtown are caged in guise of restrictions and are denied opportunities to carry on their day to day life," he said, adding that restrictions have taken a huge toll on their business and businessmen there are incurring heavy losses.
President, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Bashir Ahmad Rather said "restrictions are a ploy of state and centre government to economically weaken the traders of old city who have always shown unflinching support to the cause of people in Kashmir."