Srinagar: Shopping fever ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr turned to panic here and in other towns of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as people began mobbing shops after news reports said the Eid moon might be sighted in the evening.
People had been shopping expecting the festival to fall on Saturday, but after news reports that there was a high probability of the Eid moon being sighted on Thursday evening, the long queues of disciplined shoppers suddenly morphed into mobs jostling to buy mutton, bakery items, poultry and other edibles.
Traffic Department officials, who had been maintaining traffic meticulously in Srinagar, seemed to overlook wrong parking by motorists and the extension of shopping counters by bakers onto pedestrian footpaths.
Children were seen being escorted by parents through virtually impassable roads thronged shops to buy firecrackers.
Shoppers accused the authorities of allowing black marketeers to demand prices on a whim rather than adhering to the rate lists fixed by the administration.
Most offices and educational institutions were deserted early as everybody preferred to reach home soon.
After observing fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Eid is a special day of thanksgiving for Muslims worldwide with families looking forward to sumptuous lunches.
In Kashmir, where violence has held normal life hostage for the last 30 years, occasions like this become special as people go shopping, meet friends and relatives, and engage in other social activities.
Since the central government has declared a Ramadan ceasefire, people have been moving freely in areas otherwise vulnerable to security force operations against the militants.