SCORES OF people turned back from Kalagram after finding the entry gate of the festival closed and chained on Saturday. As a result, artists and traders, who had been invited to put up stalls at the fair, suffered huge losses but seemed clueless about the exact reason for the shutdown of the fair.
Though the organisers have sought permission of the Deputy Commissioner’s office to resume the festival, which was supposed to go on till Republic Day, sources in the UT Administration said the fate of the festival would be decided on Monday.
The UT Administration and Chandigarh Police shut down the Maghi Mela at Kalagram on Friday night due to the lack of fire safety measures.
Gujrant Singh, a member of the organising committee, said, “It was a situation of misfortune for most as we do have fire safety measures, but the NOC from the fire department was not taken. This is how it always is. So, it is justified that the DC took such a step. But, right now, our team has gone to the authorities to take permission to resume this mela. This is just a small hiccup and I believe everything will turn out smoothly.”
Singh later mentioned that they had failed to get permission on Saturday and the final date for the reopening was not clear yet. “The weekend, which was supposed to draw a huge crowd, is causing trouble for getting permission,” he added.
The stall owners are also among the ones, who would end up incurring major losses as they were expecting a huge footfall at the festival this weekend. The organisers did not allow the shopkeepers to leave the premises as there was a high expectancy that the permission would be given and the festival would resume soon.
A dry fruit seller, Firdous Ahmed, who has come from Srinagar, said, “It has been about 10 days since I have been here and this weekend was the best opportunity to earn money that every seller was looking forward to. We are still on the premises and everything is still closed. This closure has resulted in major losses for everyone. I will personally lose up to Rs 5,000 in one day as I also have to pay my rent at the hotel where I am staying and I haven’t earned any profit yet.”
According to him, most sellers are still in the dark as to why the Maghi Mela was shut down and are just hoping that everything is sorted so that normalcy could return. Yusuf Khan, a handloom craft artist, who has come from Khekra in Baghpat district, Uttar Pradesh, along with his brother Shahrukh, said, “We were expecting a good sale during the weekend. But today, we came to know that the fair was shut for an indefinite period. We are in a loss.”