Kashmir Haat, which was built here nearly six decades ago to provide a marketing platform to the people associated with handicrafts including artisans today lies in shambles with most of the shopkeepers ruing lack of customer footfall.
The shopkeepers claim the all-time high number of tourists that visited Kashmir last year did not benefit them as Kashmir Haat is not being promoted by the government on the tourist circuit as was done before the eruption of militancy.
This market was established by the then chief minister to provide a platform for the Kashmiri handicraft artisans and people associated with handicrafts. Tourists across the country visited here as they used to get original handmade products without any fear of cheating and at fixed prices.
The government would extend support to the market in terms of advertisements which ensure good footfall of tourists. But the eruption of insurgency adversely impacted this market. Our livelihood was also hit because tourists stopped visiting Kashmir. Most of the shop owners left the place and established their businesses outside the valley.
The shops reopened with the return of tourists in 1999 but the support was missing, he said. Government is not paying any attention towards this market. Last year, Kashmir witnessed a huge footfall of tourists but unfortunately that didn’t benefit us at all. Now they have requested the handicrafts department to include this market in the tourist map, which can bring in tourists again.
This market used to open at 8 am and remain open till late night 10 pm to midnight. This market was the backbone of handicrafts.