Lockdown Blues

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If anything, the spiking Coronavirus cases in Kashmir shows that we may still be some time away from flattening the curve. Thie total number of reported cases of coronavirus in J&K have already crossed 550 out of which 164 have recovered and 7 have passed away. Bandipora remains the most affected district followed by Srinagar. Meanwhile, the lockdown continues. In fact, the lockdown over coronavirus scare has come as a double whammy for Kashmir Valley. Following immediately after the six month long siege in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 in August last, the lockdown has inflicted a crushing blow to the state turned union territory’s economy as also the education.

According to an estimate by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Valley’s economy suffered a loss of more than Rs 18000 crore during post Article 370 lockdown. Tourism, one of the mainstays of the local economy has came to a halt. This hit the hotel industry and travel operators hard. The handicrafts sector was crushed. The fledgling IT industry and the start-ups were wiped out. Horticulture, a Rs 6500 crore industry, that employs around three million people, had fewer workers to take care of the harvest. A significant portion of fruit rotted on trees.

Similarly, education was the worst affected, the children couldn’t go to school for seven months, But within a fortnight of their return to schools from February 26, the lockdown over coronavirus scare has once again shut the schools down. They can’t even study online as the government has refused to restore high-speed mobile internet.

This has created a depressing situation. More so, with uncertainty deepening over the world’s and especially India’s ability to control the pandemic in near future. Kashmir economy is in desperate need for a government support. It needs help over and above what has been given to country’s economy in recent stimulus. Similarly, people desperately want a high-speed internet to enable children study at home and attend online classes. So, it is time that the government rethinks its prolonged internet ban and lift the chokehold on the life in Kashmir.

Kashmir is now looking forward to a post-Coronavirus period and hope it remains peaceful. The region has already been through a long period of disruption. But people, meanwhile, are cooperating with the government in observing new lockdown. Despite setback to economy, the lockdown doesn’t feel as painful as it does in other parts of the country. Kashmir has been through many long–period lockdown. This is a familiar territory for the people in the region. So, people will be able to deal with it better than other parts of the country.

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