Hawkers in Dal Lake witness decline in business

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Srinagar, Oct 10 : With continued agitation and protest in Jammu and Kashmir, hawkers, mainly selling their goods to tourists in houseboats, are witnessing a decline in their business.

A 52-year-old hawker starts his day by rowing from houseboat to houseboat in Dal Lake in search of customers, but all he finds are few foreign tourists relaxing in their houseboats.

Farooq Ahmed Pala deals with precious and semi-precious stones and sells his products to tourists staying in houseboats.

For many years, hawkers have been in the business of providing shawls, jewels, dress materials, carpets and other handicraft items to the tourists staying in houseboats to save time from going to markets.

But due to the recent protests in Srinagar, sparked by a decision to grant land for raising shelters for pilgrims to Amarnath shrine, tourism has been affected and in turn, the business of these hawkers.

Some of the hawkers also set up mini-super market in Shikaras, a small boat, selling groceries and other essential products to the customers.

Like Pala about 1000 other hawkers are also suffering huge losses.

"We had good business of Kashmir handicrafts like shawls, jewellery, wood carving and carpets. We were earning good livelihood, but the propaganda and shrine land issue made by the politicians and others have affected our business. It has come to five per cent from 100 per cent, said Pala.

Tourists enjoy the picturesque beauty of Srinagar staying in houseboats and the hawkers offer them exquisite jewellery and other handicrafts items.

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