November 2016 News

Transporters, Traders Worst Hit During 4-month Kashmir Unrest

8 November 2016
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: On Tuesday evening when clock struck 4 pm, Fayaz Ahmad, a middle-aged shopkeeper opened his cosmetic shop at Nowhatta as per the relaxation period announced by joint resistance leadership to eke out livelihood to feed his family of six members. At 7 pm, he closes his shop after selling few items worth Rs 640 of which he says his profit margin is about Rs 120. Fayaz says his earning on a day of evening relaxation is about. 'There were not more than 30 days in last four months when I opened shop for few hours, which has resulted in meager earnings as compared to the days of normalcy,' Ahmad said adding that he is finding difficult to meet even his daily expenses leave aside savings for future. 'I belong to a middle income group which puts me in a very odd position as neither can I ask for help nor would my conscience allow me to do it,' he said adding that prior to unrest his monthly earnings on an average was around Rs 25000 to Rs 30000 which has now dwindled to Rs 3000. As per business community, the majority of the traders, businessmen, hoteliers, transporters are facing the same plight. Traders calculate losses incurred by Kashmir economy in last 123 days at around Rs 16000 crore. However there is no official confirmation to this figure. The relaxation period announced by separatists earlier was from 5 pm to early morning next day, however due to arrival of winters and shortening of days, the joint resistance camp has scheduled relaxation from 4 pm onwards. Chief spokesman of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Farhan Kitab said that Kashmir's economy is in distress. 'Massive losses are recorded in every sector of the economy, even during the relaxation period there is hardly any business due to which net earnings of people have come down drastically which in itself is a huge cause of concern for a state like JK which is already under financial distress,' Kitab said. However, majority of the business community and trade segments say that relaxation period is 'too short' a duration for them to do business. While transporters prefer to remain off the roads as they say 'timings are not feasible for them to operate'. Summing up the condition of the transporter community, Secretary, Transport Welfare Association, Muhammad Yusuf said that 'nobody is concerned about the plight of transporters'. 'We belong to the lower social strata of the society whose earnings are hand to month and due to prevailing situation it has become very difficult for us to feed our families as we are not able to operate for about four months now, leaving apart repayment of loans,' Yusuf said, adding that separatists announced relaxation in the evening hours serves no purpose to them as it is difficult for them to operate vehicle for only few hours that too in the evening when roads and streets are deserted, besides they are apprehension that their vehicles may be attacked with stones causing them further losses. 'Although we are not against the movement, but at least resistance leadership must think about our plight,' he said that banks are serving notices upon notices and deducting EMIs from their respective guarantors. Transport sector in Kashmir is in dire straits as the unrest has left over 1.15 lakh vehicles grounded with owners, drivers and conductors finding it hard to eke out livelihood. The uprising in Kashmir began with the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani in south Kashmir's Anantnag (Islamabad) district on July 8 which subsequently led to massive protests during which 90 civuilians were killed by forces. While the resistance leadership called for 'evening relaxation' in shutdowns in its protest calendars, the overall economy continued to take a hit as, apart from grocery outlets, major business establishment remained shut. Even days before Eid-ul-Adha were marked by restrictions, shutdown and curfew.