Srinagar: In around three weeks of government led by Mehbooba Mufti, the Kashmir Valley has been put under curfew for five days, incurring, according to estimates, Rs 500 crore loss to Kashmir’s trade.
The Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President Mohammad Yasin Khan claimed curfew is imposed to plunge Kashmiris into debt by hurting business and trade. A one-day curfew costs Rs 100 crore loss to the Kashmir trade body, he said, resulting in many traders deciding to close their business units in the city.
“Traders have to take care of many things to keep their businesses alive including paying bank interests on time, pay shop rent and employee salaries. When business is not running smoothly due to hurdles created by the authorities, eventually it will destroy the whole idea of establishing a business unit,” Khan said.
He said the idea of tourism being the life-line of business here is battered when restrictions are imposed. When authorities impose restrictions in a part of the city, it spreads to other parts as well and hampers business. People are not allowed to travel, and that means business is hit.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) general trade Chairman Jan Mohammad Koul said Kashmiri businesses are the victim of frequent curfews, and that it takes three days to settle the loss of one curfew day: “More than 90% of traders have bank loans and with heavy interest rates, it is very difficult for them to keep their business updated with frequent curfews.”
He said that often it is the main business hubs, including Lal Chowk, Hari Singh High Street and Regal Chowk that are put under curfew, which has ruined trade.
Kashmir Traders Federation (KTF) spokesman Aijaz Shahdhar also said curfew is proving to be a major setback to the trade body: “Target sale is always badly hit when curfew is put in place, especially the food industry. One cannot sell a food product tomorrow when it is supposed to be sold today.”
Common people too speak out against the practice. Mohammad Sultan, a Ganderbal resident, said, “India is imposing restrictions not to shape peace but to hurt Kashmiris financially. Government of India is trying to financially ruin Kashmiris”.
Farooq Ahmad, a Karan Nagar resident, said there are lobbies working in Kashmir to weaken Kashmiris economically. “Imposing restrictions is part of India’s plan to harass Kashmiris,” he said.