Srinagar: Despite heavy build-up in the backdrop of the high-profile G20 summit in Srinagar, it was business as usual in Kashmir on Monday with no restriction on any kind of movement.
The G20 delegates arrived here on Monday morning in two different chartered flights. They were given a grand welcome at Srinagar International Airport and later transported to their next destination by road from the airport.
The G20 focuses on global economic cooperation, financial stability, and addressing international challenges.
It convenes annually to discuss various economic and financial issues like trade, investment, climate change, and global development.
Shops and other business establishments were open. The government offices were open while traffic plied normally.
Although the Boulevard was closed for traffic, the residents of the area were given alternate routes so that they do not face inconvenience.
The people did not face any hassle at the airport road, which remained busy since Monday morning as the delegates and other related people travelled on this road from the air facility to their next destination.
“We opened our shops like we used to every day,” said a shopkeeper at Jehangir Chowk. “It was not a different day but we are upbeat that the meeting will further boost our trade.”
Commercial hub Lal Chowk also witnessed hustle bustle like normal days.
Public and private transport plied normally.
The scene at the busy Batamaloo was no different.
The business establishments opened on time and people were busy in normal chores.
Reports of normal day were also received from south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, and Pulwama.
Similar reports were received from north Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Kupwara, and Bandipora, and central Kashmir districts of Budagam and Ganderbal.
“There were no restrictions in any part of Kashmir,” senior government officials said. “We thank people for their kind cooperation.” The business community has pinned high hopes on the event.
They are optimistic that foreign delegates would help in removing negative travel advisories to Kashmir, promote handicrafts, and other allied sectors.
"There are positive vibes about this event as it will once again bring back Kashmir on the international tourism map. Once that is done, our handicrafts will also get a boost,” said Javid Ahmad, an exporter. Since abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A there have been no shutdown or hartal calls.
Kashmir, earlier had a history of experiencing hartals that would disrupt daily life and economic activities.
Officials said that it took three decades for the people of Kashmir to understand that the series of hartals and violent scenes were worthless as they brought all sorts of miseries to them.
“Things took a new turn when Article 370 sections were abrogated and the region was brought under the direct control of the Centre. The government run by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha got engaged in rebuilding J&K where accountability, transparency, and merit got priority. Hartals had impacted agriculture, the primary sector of the region, badly,” they said. “The contribution of the agriculture sector to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has remained poor. More than 60 percent of employment is based on this primary sector. This means there has been an imbalance between the average incomes of agriculturists and non-agriculturists, which in essence means that 60 percent people are becoming poorer.”