In Kashmir, fisherwomen struggle to find customers

These fisherwomen hardly find any customers in the market. (DH Photo/Zulfikar Majid)

As Raja Begum, a fisherwoman with a bucket full of fish on her head reaches Amira Kadal, a famous fish market near city centre Lal Chowk in Srinagar, she is dejected to see thin movement of people in the area.

Amid restrictions and shutdown in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370, Begum and her fellow fisherwomen have to walk by foot to reach the market early morning for earning a living. But due to the lockdown, these fisherwomen hardly find any customers in the market.

“For the initial two weeks of restrictions, we didn’t come here. But for how long we can stay at home without earning anything,” dejected Begum told DH as her long wait to find a customer continued.

“In normal times, we used to leave early in the morning and board a bus to reach here. Now with public transport off the roads, we have to walk miles to reach this spot. But despite so much of hard work, we hardly find any customers here,” she said.

In normal days, Amira Kadal bridge is one of the most congested places in Srinagar with huge rush of people. Many of them come to the place to buy fish. However, these days most of the times, the bridge wears a deserted look.

Like thousands of other street vendors, the lockdown of Kashmir has badly hit the livelihood of dozens of fisherwomen. “We return home early these days as transport is not available. It is frustrating to sit idle for the entire day in the sun and return home without earning much. On some days, some of us even don’t sell even one kilogram of fish,” said another fisherwoman.

She said the situation this time was worse than 2016 summer unrest days. “Those days, we would get customers for fish in residential colonies. However, when we tried to go to residential colonies to sell fish, there were hardly any customers. It seems people don’t have enough money now,” she added.

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