City centre shuts down for an hour, traders demand justice for Kathua victim

''Ready to suffer any business losses to fight for dignity, justice''

SAQIB MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 21 2018 11:47PM | Updated Date: Apr 21 2018 11:47PM
City centre shuts down for an hour, traders demand justice for Kathua victimPhoto: Aman Farooq/GK

Shopkeepers and traders pulled down their shutters in the city centre for an hour on Saturday afternoon in protest against the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua.

The traders observed an hour-long shutdown, between 3pm to 4pm, which they said was the first voluntary shut down of markets witnessed in the city centre for the last several decades. Almost a dozen markets including Polo View, Residency Road, The Bund, Lambert Lane, Fair Deal Shopping Complex and Regal Chowk witnessed a spontaneous shutdown in solidarity with the Kathua victim. Holding banners that read, “We Want Justice” and “ Hang the Culprits”, the traders marched together and shouted pro-justice slogans. The protesting shopkeepers took out a march from Polo View to Press Enclave.

Despite suffering business losses due to frequent shutdowns and restrictions over the years, members of the trader community who hit the roads on Saturday said they are committed to seek justice for the murdered Kathua girl.  “We do not mind shutting down our shops for one hour or for that matter for one year if the brutally murdered minor girl gets justice,” said Farhan Kitab who runs a showroom at Regal Chowk and is also the president of Regal Chowk Traders Association. “The city centre markets are so vulnerable that every time something bad happens, we are first to shut down our shops. But today we have closed down business for an hour with our own choice,” said Kitab. “Let the perpetrators of this heinous crime be brought to book as soon as possible.”

Khursheed Ahmad Bhat, a garment trader at Fairdeal Shopping Complex on Saturday walked for one kilometer protesting with other traders. Bhat said he joined the protest rally not as a businessman but as a conscious citizen. “Today it is the Kathua girl and tomorrow it could be someone else. This barbarism must end and all the accused must be hanged,” said Bhat. “All these years we complained that closing down shops is counterproductive for us but today we are here as fathers beating our chests, saying no loss is more than the loss of dignity,” he said. 

Traders from other business establishments have also been demanding justice for the victim. Fruit growers and dealers under the banner of New Kashmir Fruit Association recently shut down the Parimpora fruit mandi for half a day. Bashir Ahmad Basheer, the president of the association said public pressure is vital to get justice for the victim. “In the present political regime, injustice, highhandedness and sexual crimes against women are increasing and it needs to be addressed,” said Basheer.

Even government employees hit the city streets roads demanding justice for the victim. BSNL employees’ union J&K circle also held a protest rally in the city centre and demanded a swift, exemplary sentence against the perpetrators.

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