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Police cut shop locks of protesting traders in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, allege traders

A lock lies outside a shop at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on August 5, 2021, the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370.   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk on Thursday witnessed a face-off between shopkeepers and the police over observing a shutdown on the second anniversary of the revocation of the J&K’s special constitutional position.

Several shopkeepers at Polo View, Residency Road, Lambert Lane and Regal Chowk alleged that the police personnel in civvies cut locks with hacksaw and iron rods to lift the shutters of the closed shops. It started around 10:30 a.m. after the shopkeepers decided against opening them.

 

“I was home when my salesman called up to say locks are being broken by the police patrolling the market. My shop was half open and I was forced to open it against my will. We are caught between the devil and the deep sea. The past two years have been marred by spells of curfews, restrictions and pandemic-related closures. The police action has left us vulnerable now,” said a shopkeeper, on the condition of anonymity.

Members of the Association running these markets said several senior police officers on Wednesday warned of action in case the shopkeepers failed to open shops.

“We live in a democracy. We have every right to express our politics. We should not be treated as cattle,” another trader said.

Several shopkeepers alleged that they were forced to keep shops open to “portray normalcy in Kashmir” after August 5, 2019.

The police also managed to keep the Kara Nagar market near the old city open. However, most markets in other parts of the city remained closed. A police official said the police personnel on patrol were providing ‘security’ to shopkeepers.

Posting a video of alleged police personnel unlocking the closed shops, National Conference leader Sara Hayat, said, “The police say ‘toddo’. The police breaking open the locks of shops of people as they observe August 5 as a Black Day. What a shame!”

The Hindu could not get the version of the local police officer at the Kothi Bagh police station despite repeated attempts.


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 8:52:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/police-cut-shop-locks-of-protesting-traders-in-srinagars-lal-chowk-allege-traders/article35753864.ece

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