Let Businesses Reopen

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KO Photo: Abid Bhat

THE catch-22 lockdown situation has weighed heavy on businesses in Kashmir. Even as the spectre of Covid-19 has materialised into a grave danger in Kashmir, it is still the colossal loss of wealth and hunger that is most horrifying. The current lockdown in place in Kashmir is a puzzling paradox. Globally, countries are opening up their economies. Even in India, states with higher number of Covid-19 cases are opening up businesses. Why hasn’t this been the case in Kashmir?

Here, shops in mohalla markets are given a leeway while big markets such as Lalchowk and Nawhatta in Srinagar are facing the heat of a stricter lockdown.

Lockdowns were imposed with the idea of buying time and improving  the health infrastructure that had risen due to the pandemic. We’re six months into the Covid-19 lockdown in Kashmir and it is still unknown as to why we’re still so underprepared.

The  disruption of the economic system in Kashmir has not been addressed adequately. The government hasn’t given any substantial relief packages to people in Kashmir. It is shifting the responsibility of prevention on people as it has failed to equip our healthcare system. Why must a poor shopkeeper take the brunt of the lapses that our administration has made?

Shops with their shutters down and men in khaki thronging the streets is a sight that brings back memories of hartals and curfews. Why is a curfew and a Covid-19 lockdown being implemented interchangeably in Kashmir? The long lockdown last year that followed the abrogation of Article 370 had also crippled our economy. Coupled  with the Covid-19 lockdown, it has totally shattered it.

Therefore, it is absolutely important for businesses to open up in Kashmir now. The adverse effects of a yearlong lockdown in Kashmir might outlast generations. Such a realisation only goes on to foreground the urgency with which our economy needs to be revived.

Therefore, the government needs to lift the lockdown and find other ways to ensure SOPs are followed. Not opening up the economy as promptly as possible or reimposing more lockdowns is tantamount to deliberately pushing people to hunger and deprivation.

Tania Shafi

Downtown, Srinagar 

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