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Ghanta Ghar: ‘Iska time he kharab hai’

January 12, 2019

Srinagar, Jan 11: Barely a year after they replaced the defunct older ones, the new clocks on Ghanta Ghar at Lal Chowk here have stopped functioning.

All four clocks installed on the politically-significant 1979 monument were replaced in September 2017.

The new machines had been provided by ‘Time n Sound’, which is the city’s oldest watch house. And they were to be maintained by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

Yet, the clocks have failed, keeping up with the bad tradition that the clock tower has kept since it came up in the centre of the city: it has rarely been able to show correct time.
The incorrect clocks now make the passersby comment: ‘iska time hee kharab hai (times gone bad)’.

“Ghanta Ghar was constructed for people’s convenience and it is a famous landmark but for the last few years, the clocks aren’t showing the correct time. Municipality is least interested in restoring them,” says Gulzar Ahmed, a local.

Showkat Ahmed, who runs a decades-old shop near the tower, complains about the size of the clocks. “Old clocks used to be bigger in size and easier to read. The new ones are smaller and hardly work,” Showkat said.

“It has been twenty years now, and I have never seen the correct time on the clocks”
The clock tower was inaugurated by the then-Chief Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.
The clocks, then used, were both manufactured and maintained by Bajaj, an Indian watch company.

They, however, worked only for the next few years. The logo of the company was also removed from the clocks – apparently the name ‘Bajaj’ riled up the security – which eventually made the manufacturer pull back their maintenance.

Subsequently, times went from bad to worse.
The clocks went from showing the correct time to lagging behind and then refused to work at all. Then came the turbulent ’90s and the tower was fortified – lock, stock and barrel.

Years later, Omar, Sheikh’s grandson, got a new set of clocks installed. But even they followed suit, going dysfunctional after only a few weeks.

Then Titan, the international watch company, came to the rescue. Four brand new clocks, which would illuminate in the dark, were imported from Switzerland at the cost of Rs 5 lakh.

The clocks would, however, need good electricity to function and Kashmir had its existing worries as far as that was concerned.
Hence, back to square one.

Commissioner City Municipality, Peerzada Hafeezullah, needed some rewinding to know if his corporation was responsible to maintain the clocks or not.“I don’t know if it (clocks) is maintained by SMC. If it is, then I’ll look into the matter and will order its restoration.”

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