Empty Old Delhi streets prelude to a solemn Id

Shops that used to be packed with customers till 1 a.m. now close before sunset

The streets of Old Delhi bore a deserted look on the last Friday before Id as residents stayed indoors owing to lockdown restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seeing the empty narrow streets and just a few people in Jama Masjid, the residents of the Walled City said that this Id would be a first of its kind with bare minimum of festivities.

Shopkeepers, who are usually inundated with customers at this time of the year, said that restrictions on movement, implementation of curfew, and a depleted income forced most people to remain indoors.

Mohammad Danish, a shopkeeper of a garments store opposite to Jama Masjid, said: “This street is usually always bustling with people and before Id we used to end up keeping our shops open till 12.30 a.m.-1 a.m. daily. There used to be a festive air with people everywhere. Now, with the curfew timings in place, people usually shut shop by 6.30 p.m., which also means that our business has been reduced to nothing.”

Farman, a footwear seller, added: “With two months of lockdown, people have no money left to spend on buying new items. We have hardly had any sales. There are days when we earn ₹100-₹200 only. It’s a very sensitive situation right now. People are of the opinion that if we cannot go to the Masjid for namaaz then what is the point of celebrating anything and shopping?”

Several residents said that given the circumstances the country was reeling under, religious leaders had advised people to follow the guidelines issued by the government.

“Life comes first and then comes nation. If the nation is under threat and does not survive then what will the people do? So, we have decided to remain indoors this Id and not step out to buy anything. For one month we have been observing Ramzan from within our houses which is also something that has never been done before. When we didn’t get to observe Ramzan like we do, what can we possibly celebrate?” said Shakir Siddiqui, a retired government official.

Some like Rizwana Habib added that instead of spending their money on shopping this Id, they were helping the poor and needy.

“The usual celebration and shopping is absent. But several people are donating money to help the poor and needy by providing them food and clothes. Some even paid the school fees for children whose parents could not afford it due to the lockdown,” said Ms. Habib, who runs a primary school in Chawri Bazar.

Mohammad Nafis, a resident of Lal Kuan said: “Brotherhood between people irrespective of their religion is of utmost importance. So, for the sake of all and for humanity at large, it has been decided that we stay away from the usual festivities.”

With the characteristic revelry missing from the streets, a contingent of police and security personnel marched through the lanes with loudspeakers, reiterating the need for people to remain indoors.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 12:42:52 AM |

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