Our survival at risk, Kashmir Inc cries out in anguish in public ‘SOS’

SRINAGAR: For the second time in a month, trade bodies in Kashmir have publicly expressed their helplessness before a “system” that has put pressure on them to return loans but at the same time crippled their economic activity.
This public admission of how the situation in Kashmir has broken their back is quite unprecedented. In the past thirty years of political turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir, trade bodies have never publicly expressed such helplessness.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Kashmir Trade and Manufactures Federation, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Federation of Commerce and Industry, PHD Chamber of commerce (Kashmir Chapter) and others have issued a full-page statement in newspapers about their plight.
“Here is an SOS message to 1.3 million humans from ill-fated trade, tourism, horticulture, agriculture, handicrafts, commerce, and industrial community of Kashmiris that has got caught in the middle of the sea of debt and destruction,” reads the statement titled SOS.
This public statement has come from trade bodies in the aftermath of losses faced by the Kashmir economy due to the government-imposed lockdown since August last year. Kashmir has mostly been shut during this period, severely disabling the economy.
Loans taken by traders have not generated any capital, the statement said, adding that the banks have been putting pressure on them to return the money with interest. The traders have appealed to the banks and to the government to understand the reasons for their defaulting on loan repayments.
“We have not asked for any aid but relaxation in paying the money we owe them. We are circumstantial defaulters and not wilful, but the treatment given to us is that of a wilful defaulter, which is unethical. We are in this mess because of closure of markets, suspension of internet by the government, but this does not come under the consideration,” said a trader.
Approximately 1,000 days, as per the statement, of standstill since 2008 due to unrest and turmoil has put their survival at risk. Despite the fact that they have not earned a single penny during the troubled spell, they have never been hesitant in paying banks their interest, administrative charges, salaries to staff and maintaining their families, the statement reads.
“How cruel can be the system, when the business fraternity is being enticed for investments, sky is the limit has been sold as a dream. But when the same community gets trapped due to the system’s failures, the same system leaves the community in a shambles and starts selling false dreams to new entrepreneurs,” the statement reads further.
“Dear 1.3 billion people we trust that you will make them realise what we have been going through all these years, how long we will be compelled to bear these involuntary losses and liabilities. We believe you will make them realise that this is high time to address our genuine concerns and make them start acknowledging their responsibilities,” the trade bodies said in their appeal.

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