Kashmir Unrest:Boon For Some,Bane For Traders & Transporters

Srinagar: The ongoing unrest in Valley has affected every sector while transporters and traders are the worst sufferers. Even the Government has lost its revenue and has started feeling the heat of the unrest. However, roadside vendors are doing a crisp business and this unrest unlike for traders and transporters has turned boon for vendors doing business in uptown parts of Srinagar city. Besides vendors, the retailers in the interiors are also doing normal business.

Transporters are the worst sufferers as they are unable to avail even the benefits from the evening relaxation period periodically announced by separatist leadership. Transport Welfare Association General Secretary Sheikh Muhammad Yousf told news agency CNS that a transporter loses Rs 15oo per day given the fact he has to pay toll tax, passenger tax and fitness fee. “Besides a transporter who is a loanee has  to pay 14.50% interest to the Bank,” he said adding that there are 35000 Sumos and 6000 buses and mini-buses operating in Valley while in Srinagar alone 1800 mini-buses are operating on Eastern and Western routes.

Shiekh Muhammad Yousuf however added that transporters are bearing such losses as they are hopeful the Kashmir issue will be resolved. “It is question of prestige and dignity. Though we are the worst victims of this unrest yet we support and back the Resistance leadership calendar because people here in Kashmir have not only lost lives but innocent teenagers have been blinded by Indian armed forces.

People associated with tourism industry have also incurred huge losses. Tourism players admitted that industry is on decline and due to present turmoil hotels and houseboats are empty with no tourists residing in them. “To have a glimpse of tourist here in such circumstances is a distant dream. We can’t do anything but supporting the freedom movement with a hope that present unrest will yield positive results,” said a tourism player. Even a government official admitted that tourism industry has received a big jolt as they can’t attract outside tourists in such situation. “Please don’t mention my name. I do believe and same is the view point of my peers that State Government in consultation with Government of India should intervene and find an amicable solution to this problem. Unfortunately, both the State and the Central Government are in no mood to blink. I am afraid that we will lose everything if governments continue to act as mute spectators,” the official said adding that till this situation is addressed and the issue resolved, the tourism would continue to be affected.

“If we rely on the figures of economists and traders, since July 9, Kashmir has suffered a whopping Rs 13,230-crore loss to the economy. These figures are tentative while the loss is much higher than this. Properties worth crores have been damaged both by the government forces as well as some miscreants. Besides, more than 90 human lives are lost and hundreds have lost vision. Recently, Geelani Sahab had sought our suggestion over the current imbroglio, though some suggested that relaxation timing should be extended but majority favoured the continuation of strike as they think it has now become a point of prestige for the people of Kashmir,” said a renowned trader wishing not to be named.

The current unrest has also witnessed a dip in the revenue generation of state government. The state government according to a Finance Department official has suffered revenue losses close to Rs 600 crore since July 9. “The collection of sales tax has been hit while the collection of levies and taxes has come down drastically,” he said.

Pertinently, the businesses of Valley have badly hit due to curfew and separatist sponsored strikes. Life has come to a halt for the past 98 days after protests erupted in Kashmir following the killing of Hizb poster boy Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 8. (CNS)

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