Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of Srinagar, is the first sufferer of any eventuality in Kashmir. Anything unusual happens and Lal Chowk shuts down instantaneously bringing great damage to the business of the shopkeepers. Right from the 90s of the previous century Lal Chowk has suffered a great deal and continues to do so.
At the bridal market in Goni Khan, where prospective brides would be milling in and out to buy bridal items now almost wears a deserted look. The same can be said of the upscale and hipster Lambert Lane. The cinemas of the market which would attract huge crowds from the countryside are now defunct. The district court has now been flanked out of the main business hub.
The shortage of footfall is forcing the shopkeepers to sell stuff at high profit margins which again makes people to shop elsewhere. More and more people are preferring to shop online and the elitist lot prefer to shop in bulk from the metropolitan cities of India.
The typical middle class families of Kashmir who do not have a government employee have less purchasing power on account of the current turbulence.
Thus, Lal chowk which was once the heart beat of Srinagar is past its prime. The lack of transport facility due to the Covid lockdown is also one of the reason why people prefer to give Lal Chowk a miss. Besides, the spawning of shopping malls in the periphery of Srinagar is also stealing some customers from shopkeepers of Lal Chowk.
The shopkeepers of Lal Chowk have a lot to say to the government. The current establishment has to protect the most important market of Srinagar.