November 2016 News

How Unrest Has Hit Start-Ups In Kashmir

3 November 2016
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: It is the 117th day of shut down in Kashmir. Schools and shops are closed and public transport is still off the roads. The unending strike has hit the common man, students, transporters and business community. But one of the worst-hit are budding start-ups in the valley. Tabish Habib was to launch her start-up in July. But due to the current unrest, her business incubation centre, Think Pod, is a non-starter. The 26 year old invested Rs. 30 lakh rupees in the start-up, and one and a half lakh in salaries and rent for the last four months. Income: zero. 'It creates a certain disbelief in your mind and heart that if you try to generate employment and try to do something good, is it going to fetch anything. At this point of time I think no,' said Tabish Habib. Unrest broke out in Kashmir after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Since then more than 90 people, most of them teenagers, have died in firing by security forces and over ten thousand have been injured during clashes and firing. Even as the pro-Azadi protests have receded in Kashmir, the strife and uncertainty continues. While Tabish says a permanent solution to Kashmir conflict is important for a stable business and future of budding entrepreneurs, for now if the shutdown continues, she may have to wind up the centre. 'You get a strategic set back which you are not able to compensate. These three months have put me back a year. We started something which is new. It was supposed to be launched... at this time I don't even known if I'm able to launch and continue it, I pay hefty amount of rent.' On top of the shutdown, is internet blockade. For Ejaz Ayoob, who set up the knowledge-sharing platform Silk Route Consulting Group, and has 250 start-ups registered with him, it has spelt doom. While broadband internet has been restored, mobile internet service continue to remain suspended since July 9 in all the 10 district of Kashmir. 'When you shop is closed how can you run your business, when your internet is not working, you are not able to take orders how will you run your e-commerce,' said Ejaz Ayoob.