The ongoing unrest in Kashmir has led to a whopping Rs 6,400-crore loss to the economy of the Valley, with businesses being badly hit due to curfew and separatist sponsored strikes.
Tourist and other business activities in Kashmir have come to a halt for the past 49 days after protests erupted in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 8.
Clashes between protesters and security forces have claimed the lives of 66 people and left thousands of others injured. Shops, business establishments, private offices and petrol pumps have been shut as the separatists groups have called for a complete strike to protest the civilian deaths in the violence after Wani’s killing. The separatists have announced periods of relaxation, but they are usually in the night which does not help the traders who allege that there have been instances of masked youths or even security forces forcing the shopkeepers to down the shutters.
“Kashmir is suffering losses of about Rs 135 crore daily. This estimates to over Rs 6,400 crore so far,” Mohammad Yaseen Khan, president Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), said here. Khan, however, said these figures were based on the daily business six months ago.
He said the trader community wants the Kashmir issue to be resolved permanently. The state government has suffered revenue losses close to Rs 300 crore in the past one-anda-a-half months.
“The collection of levies and taxes has come down drastically since the unrest began. The sales tax collection has been the worst hit,” an official in the Finance department said. Similarly, tourism, considered to be the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy, has also come to a stand still. “People are turning away from Kashmir due to the unrest,” a tourism player said here. He said that hotels and houseboats were empty and famous tourist spots were looking desolated. An official of the Tourism Department, who did not wish to be named, admitted that tourism in the Valley was on decline but said they were “helpless”.
“What can we do? The department is helpless. We cannot go outside the state and ask people to visit the Valley.
“How can we even expect people to visit the Valley when the situation is such,” the official said. Till this situation is addressed and the issue resolved, the tourism would continue to be affected, he said.