As people of Kashmir busied themselves on Thursday with shopping for the coming Eid celebrations, prices of essential commodities as well as fancy goods hit north in Srinagar and other cities and towns in the valley.
Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of thanksgiving marking the end of holy month of Ramadan, is likely to be held on July 18, depending on the sighting of the New Moon.
Shoppers thronged the markets in Srinagar, making shopkeepers stretch working hours till late in the evening to meet the heavy rush.
City centre Lal Chowk and adjacent markets were decorated with colourful banners and hoardings extending Eid greetings as shoppers moved around to buy mutton, poultry, bakery products, vegetables, cottage cheese, clothes and other items that took their fancy.
In city markets, enthusiastic children were seen thronging shops with their parents to buy clothes and firecrackers.
Typical of celebration times in Srinagar, buyers were forced to pay inflated prices for different items while they griped over government failure to ensure fair prices of essential commodities during festive seasons.
Though consumer affairs and public distribution department issued price lists of essential commodities and got these published in local newspapers and put in place checking squads, official price lists were observed more in breach.
As against the state administration’s retail price of mutton at Rs.310 per kg and poultry at Rs.100 per kg, meat was sold at Rs.400 and poultry at Rs.130 per kg everywhere in the city. Similarly, other essential commodities were sold at inflated prices.
“Unscrupulous shopkeepers know how to deal with consumers. They first create artificial scarcity and then charge at will,” said Javed Shah, 48, outside a shop selling cheese in the old city Srinagar.
Long queues were seen outside some wellknown bakery shops in the city.
“My wife said I must buy bakery from this shop only. I think I will have to spend the entire day to fulfill her wish,” remarked Shabir Farash, 41, as he tried hard to make his way to the front of baker’s shop in uptown Srinagar city.
Traffic police faced tough time regulating throngs of people as well as vehicles in the city, with frequent jams reported across the city.
On the eve of Eid, provincial administration issued a traffic diversion plan to decongest the city centre and other busy markets.