10 gutted stores in the Srinagar market
SRINAGAR: At least ten stores that sell clothing and electronics were completely destroyed in a fire at the Iqbal market in the Batamaloo area on Monday night, even when fear seized street vendors and merchants afterwards of the grenade attack on Hari Singh High Street (HSHS) in Srinagar earlier on the day that left a non-cashmere toy vendor dead and 44 others injured. While sources said criminals had set fire to stores to cause fear among merchants to keep their stores closed, police blamed the short circuit on Tuesday.
A police officer said firefighters with the assistance of police and locals controlled the fire and prevented more stores from catching fire. An investigation into the incident has been ordered, he added.
As the second grenade attack approached in the HSHS area since August 5, the incident increased fear of street vendors and merchants, who stayed away from trading in the residential area of Srinagar on Tuesday. The first grenade explosion in the HSHS area took place on October 12.
There is a lot of fear since yesterday's episode (Monday). So, today (Tuesday) we decided not to install stalls in the upper area market area, said Abdur Rashid, a street vendor.
Although pedestrians were seen to move freely in the area, street vendors and merchants were visible because of their absence. Unlike other days, merchants at the HSHS market in Goni Khan said they pulled down their blinds at 10 in the morning due to fear caused by the last grenade explosion and the fire incident. “We close our stores at 10am. We don't want to face a similar situation that we face on Monday, a trader said.
Amid the uncertainty in Kashmir since Article 370 was dismissed by Parliament on August 5, merchants had been opening their stores only a few hours in the morning and observing the closure for the rest of the day. Lately, however, things had changed as stores had begun to function normally, but the grenade attack came as a spoiler.
Meanwhile, reports say two private cars were set on fire in Bagh-e-Alimardan in Hawal, in downtown Srinagar, Tuesday morning. However, police denied the reports and said criminals had tried to cause damage to some private vehicles, but timely police intervention saved the day.