Bakrid in Kashmir to be low-key affair with lockdown in place

With back-to-back lockdowns due to rising coronavirus cases in Kashmir, reminiscent of the government-imposed lockdown last year as communications block remained in place after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked, Bakrid in the Valley is all set to be a low-key affair.

A day ahead of Bakrid, police personnel made announcements, appealing people not to assemble for Eid prayers due to the coronavirus pandemic with restrictions still in place as part of the lockdown.

SP East Sheema Nabi Qasba said, “We have eased restrictions for Bakrid so that people can come and shop. But we must not forget social distancing norms and keep our masks on.”

Last year, Bakrid or Eid al-Adha prayers could not be offered in Kashmir as authorities had imposed strict curfew in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 and division of the then Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories.

This year, it is coronavirus. Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on Saturday.

Only a few people were seen at a popular sweet shop “Gulab” near Gupkar road. The usual rush that is witnessed days ahead of Bakrid was missing as a large number of people preferred to stay at home in view of the pandemic.

The sale of sacrificial animals was also sluggish. The sheep and goat sellers reduced the prices by nearly 20 per cent but even then the sales were meager.

A customer said, “In the present situation, there is hardly any crowd for celebrations.” Another customer says on August 5, we will be completing a year in lockdown but people are not happy because and old memories will come back.”

The sweet shop owner said, “Our business is affected. There are not many people outside purchasing items for Bakrid. Sales are low.”

The coronavirus-induced lockdown has turned out to be a major cause of worry for the meat dealers as well in Kashmir as the graph of sacrificial animals has gone down as much as over 50 per cent.

A disappointed member of the Bakarwal community takes its herd of goats back to Udhampur. “We are going back because we have not sold any.”

According to a preliminary economic assessment report, released by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) in December last year, Kashmir’s economy suffered a loss of Rs 17,800 crore. Around 4.9 lakh jobs were lost between August and October 2019.

The losses have since then continued due to Covid situation, giving no reason for cheer.

This was the third Eid in a row in Kashmir when the business activity has failed to pick up.