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Rotational market reopening, alternate days off: Traders, admin agree in principle to relax lockdown in Srinagar

Srinagar:  Traders and Srinagar administration have reached on an agreement to reopen the markets in the capital city.

Mohammad Sadiq Baqal, president, Kashmir Traders, and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), said it has been agreed in principle to reopen markets. “However, it is up to the deputy commissioner to take a final decision,” he said.

Baqal said the administration has suggested rotational reopening of shops. “For example, footwear shops will open one day and they will remain shut the next day. Similarly, shops dealing in different items will open on different days,” he said.

KTMF president also noted that the markets will remain open on alternate days. “Markets will not remain open throughout the week,” he said.

This follows the second round of talks between trade unions,  police and administration on Wednesday.

Traders expressed concern over the slump in the market due to the COVID-19 and sought resumption of trade activities in the valley.

“We informed the administration about the current business scenario. A threadbare discussion was held and everyone from business associations, security and administration put forth their suggestions,” said Muhammad Yaseen Khan, Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance.

Khan said traders informed the administration about the impact of a 10-month-long shutdown on the economy of the valley. “The administration was convinced with our feedback to some extent. It sought some time,” he said.

 Sources said the deputy commissioner asked the traders about their preparations to ensure social distancing and sanitation within their business outlets. He also sought views from traders about the functioning of busy markets in Srinagar, sources said.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Haneef Balkhi said the modalities have been worked out by the administration to allow the functioning of markets within the city.

“Decision about the opening of markets in Srinagar will come anytime.  The administration is trying to bring everyone on board,” he said.

Balkhi said many areas in the city have been declared red zones. “These areas will have to function differently comparing to green or orange zones. We are getting in touch with other trade federations to know their point of view,” he said.

All Traders and Transport Joint Coordination Committee also met Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on Wednesday.   

Trade activities in Kashmir have remained suspended since March 21 when the government announced lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.