Srinagar, Jan 30: Amid imposition of weekend lockdown in Srinagar, the weekly flea market popularly known as Sunday Market presented a deserted look on Sunday.
Continuous closure of Sunday Market has hit the livelihood of street vendors. The closure of the flea market has also disappointed thousands of people who prefer to purchase goods from this market at cheaper rates.The weekly market stretches from the Tourist Reception Center (TRC) to Polo View area, a distance of half a kilometre.
The market has also mostly remained closed during the past two years since the outbreak of the pandemic. “We are around 200 street vendors who install stalls in the flea market. Hundreds of people on every Sunday make purchases from this market. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the market has mostly remained shut affecting our livelihood badly,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a street vendor. He said that on October 18, 2020 the market was allowed to reopen after remaining closed for consecutive eight months due to COVID19 pandemic, but only to close again after some weeks.
“The street vendors had set up their stalls while ensuring social distancing. The sellers and buyers were also following COVID19 safety guidelines,” he said, adding, “We always followed SOPs in letter and spirit whenever we were allowed to install our stocks.” Majeed Ahmad, another street vendor said during winter, people visit this weekly flea market to look for some warm clothes.
“I used to buy toys for my children, sweater, jeans and jackets for self and other family members. I also used to look for cushions, warm blankets, curtains and other all necessary items available at cheap prices in this market. Since its closure, we are unable to make purchases as we cannot afford products from shops selling similar products at higher rates," said Nasir Ahmad, who said that he used to make most purchases from the market along with other friends. The market also witnesses makeshift tea stalls and vendors selling other eatables. The rush of shoppers remains massive in this market as people from other districts also prefer to make purchases here.
It is easy for shoppers to find clothes, blankets, groceries, curtains, kitchenware, hardware, and other products in this market of their choice at cheap prices.
The street vendors and shoppers said that they would adhere to COVID19 safety guidelines in letter and spirit in case authorities allow them to reopen the market.