Kashmir lockdown has cost local businesses Rs39bn: report


The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) has estimated that the military curfew and communications blackout in Indian-occupied Kashmir had cost businesses in the valley a whopping Rs39 billion that may never be recovered.

According to a report by Kashmir Media Service, KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad said in a media interview in Srinagar that on average the occupied valley was losing at least Rs1-2 billion daily due to the draconian military curfew imposed by New Delhi.

The claims lay bare statements made by Indian officials in the past few weeks where the decision to revoke the constitutional autonomy of the valley and impose a curfew in the area was shamelessly white-washed with promises of investment and development in the region.

In the statement made by Ahmad, it was reported that the tourism industry in the occupied valley was the hit hardest by the clampdown, and was losing millions of rupees daily. According to Ahmad, the tourism industry contributed Rs1-2 billion to the Indian economy annually.

The snapping of cellular communication and internet has complicated the situation in the area considerably, where cellphones determined the functioning of most of the businesses, particularly information technology, courier services, tourism and some others.

Tanveer Ahmad, who owns a travel agency in Sonawar, said that losses of tour operators, hoteliers and houseboat owners could increase as gag on internet continues in the valley.

“Our business is completely dependent on internet. If this internet gag continues, our losses may go up. For instance if I incurred a Rs2 million loss this month, it may cross Rs5 million in another month,” he pointed out.

Empty shikaras, vacant houseboats and deserted hotels presents a grim picture of the tourism sector. Hundreds of the youth have lost their jobs so far as majority of the hotels in the valley have downed their shutters in absence of tourists.

Horticulture sector, the biggest economy and employment generating sector of Kashmir, is suffering too. An official from the Transport Department told Kashmir Media Service that at least 6,000 commercial vehicles had not plied on roads for the last 39 days.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had revoked the constitutional autonomy of occupied Kashmir on August 5 and imposed a military curfew in the valley imprisoning thousands of Kashmiris.

The United Nations, United States, European Union and Pakistan are now ramping up pressure on India to ease the clampdown in the valley and allow independent reporters to verify widespread allegations of human rights violations in the area by Indian security forces.