Remember Your Brethren in Distress

Eid-ul-Fitr follows a period of unmitigated distress in the Valley. Ever since the revocation of the Article 370 in August last, Kashmir has been in a lockdown. It was only by February that the Valley had partially emerged from a six month long siege. But within a month and a half of some relaxation, the Valley was plunged into another lockdown. Though COVID-19 lockdown across the country has been strict, it still can't beat the severity of the post August 5 Kashmir siege. Unlike India or anywhere in the world, Kashmir had no means of communication, not even a landline, used by a small number of people, for a month. Mobile phones were restored after three and a half month and the slow-speed 2G internet after six months

In the process, Kashmir had to bear a colossal loss to its economy: As a local business body has calculated, the Valley lost an estimated Rs 18000 crore in six months of siege followed by around Rs 13000 crore more in the lockdown over the past two months..Tourism, one of the mainstays of the local economy has come to a halt. This has hit the hotel industry and travel operators hard. The handicrafts sector has been crushed. The fledgling IT industry and the start-ups have been wiped out. Ditto for Horticulture, a Rs 6500 crore industry, Its fallout on the livelihoods of people has been far-reaching. Lakhs of people have lost jobs. What is more, there is little hope to look forward to. Recent rise in violence has further deteriorated the situation turning lives of many more people upside down. For example, the recent razing of 15 houses at Nawakadal during an encounter between militants and security forces. These people have nowhere to go.

While we celebrate Eid, a festivity which is incumbent on all Muslims, we need to be mindful of the immediate tragedy that has befallen a large section of our society, over and above the trauma and grief that we have been experiencing for the past three decades. This calls for us to be much more austere in our celebration. We need to show that we care on Eid too. Those of us who can afford to spend should instead donate the amount they would otherwise spend on consumables for their brethren in distress. Same goes for the people who spend lavishly on Eid feast. They would earn more Sawab and God's goodwill should they also contribute some amount to the people who have nothing. Let this Eid further strengthen and sustain the spirit of community effort that has made us resilient in the face of worst adversity.

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