By Zafar Abbas
New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) A group of five men in white kurta pyjamas wait outside the Nizamuddin Markaz for the local policeman to arrive. After some anxious moments, the policeman arrives on a motorcycle with the building’s key. It is time for afternoon prayers and only five people are permitted to offer prayers inside the Markaz five times a day. As he unlocks the gate, the five men walk in to offer Zohar Namaz.
Khaleeq, who has his small shop, selling skull caps, beads and other religious items, exactly opposite the Markaz entrance, feels that with foreigners gone from the area, the market will have a hard time to pick up.
“With the uncertainty on when foreigners would be allowed in Markaz now, the business at Nizamuddin market is badly hit. Most of the shops here are based on the foreigners’ needs and demands. With no foreign customers, we are facing heavy losses,” he said.
The worst affected are money exchange shops which were mostly dependent on foreigners’ visit to Markaz.
Ahmed Uzair, a banker who resides in Nizamuddin, believes that the market might now pay the price of being too much dependent on foreign customers attending the jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz.
“Many shopkeepers are vacating their shops as they are unable to pay the rent. Many have packed up and went to their native places as they see a bleak future of what was once a flourishing market,” Uzair said.
After de-containment of Nizamuddin, the barricades present at the main road leading to Nizamuddin Markaz has been removed now but there are little or no customers in the market.
In comparison to the adjoining Bhogal market, Nizamuddin market is primarily focused on the needs of the visitors to the Markaz. Now since the markaz has been closed, the usual flow of customers is missing.
“Not just foreigners but visitors from other states in India formed the backbone for the survival of this market. It’s facing a tough time now and it seems it will continue for some time,” said Shamshad Ahmed, another shopkeeper in the area.
The Markaz was closed since the lockdown and on the night of March 29, police and health authorities started bringing people out from the Markaz and sent them to hospitals and quarantine facilities.