As situation improves in Purola, few Muslims reopen shops

UTTARKASHI: Around 9am on Saturday, under the watchful eyes of cops, four barber kiosks, two garment shops, a beauty parlour and a watch-repair outlet opened in Uttarkashi’s Purola town after staying shut for three weeks. The eight shops are among many others, owned by Muslims in the town, that have been closed since May 27, when the alleged abduction of a minor girl started communal tensions in the town. Other Muslim shop owners, who have stayed away till now, are now planning to return to Purola, as per locals who are in touch with the traders.
The six Muslim families that own the eight shops in Purola and have been staying in the town for the last 40 years said they were grateful for the support of their neighbours and other shopkeepers, who “kept checking in on them as communal strife raged in the town and encouraged them to return to their homes and businesses”. Shopkeepers said they had anticipated fewer than usual customers but, surprisingly, there wasn’t a dip in number of buyers.
Ashraf, who owns two garment shops, said, “It was a relief to reopen the shops after such a long time. We were nervous at first but received a welcoming response. Many people visited our shops, made purchases and asked about our well-being.”
The Uttarkashi district administration, which lifted Section 144 of CrPC from Purola on Friday, is still in alert mode, as right-wing groups, protesting against “love jihad and land jihad”, have planned a bike rally on June 18 and deferred their “Hindu mahapanchayat” to June 25. Meanwhile, SDM Jitendra Kumar and circle officer, Barkot, SS Bhandari, held a “peace meeting” with residents and members of different organisations on Saturday. They appealed to them to maintain peace in the town and “stay away from rumours”.

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