Bijbehara: As this south Kashmir town goes to polls on Saturday, shops remain closed a day ahead. The shopkeepers allege that they were instructed by police to do so.
Bijbehara town in Anantnag district is scheduled for polling in the last phase of maiden District Development Council (DDC) elections tomorrow but the main market and the peripheries have been shut down.
While the highway passing through the area is abuzz with vehicles as usual, a thin traffic is plying on the interiors. Shops and business establishments in the main market and the nearby Zirpara area are shut.
Kashmir Bylines tried to reach out to some shopkeepers many of whom refused to have their say, fearing reprisal from the local police.
“We had just opened and were cleaning our shop in Zirpara across [the river] and the police arrived, asking us to wind up,” said a shopkeeper, seeking anonymity.
A group of shopkeepers in the Goriwan locality of the town said that they did not even try to open their shops after being told by others about the police instructions, upon their arrival in the morning.
However, when Kashmir Bylines reached out to Station House Officer (SHO) Bijbehara, Tawseef Mir, for a comment, he trotted out a plain denial.
When asked that shops were witnessed shut with shopkeepers citing instructions from his subordinate cops, he said “this is not true…” a couple of times before hanging up the phone.
Pertinently, mobile internet services in the area were also suspended as this report was being filed.
The ‘forced’ shutdown and the restrictions on internet are likely to continue on Saturday when the area will go to polls.
Earlier on Tuesday, there were reports of police allegedly asking the shopkeepers to shut down their businesses in Anantnag town which went to polls the next day with the restrictions in place. However, police and the district administration had outrightly denied the allegations that day as well.