Shawl-sellers reluctant to come to city amid post-abrogation situation in Valley
Kolkata: Families of Kashmir's shawl-sellers are reluctant to send their children to Kolkata after the abrogation of Article 370, fearing attack on their wards during the journey.
"My parents didn't allow me to come here. I convinced them and then came to the City of Joy. Selling shawls during winter in Kolkata is the only source of our livelihood. That is why I have come here. Around 95 percent of pashmina in Kashmir is now processed through power looms. We are not safe anywhere in India. I want to inform the government that there is no protection for Kashmiri artisans who spin pashmina (a fine type of wool), weave shawls by hand and sell them in different parts of the country," said a Kashmiri shawl-seller, requesting anonymity.
While the Kashmiris usually come to the city to sell their traditional pashmina shawls and other hand-made garments in November, the communication blockade in Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution has left the weavers in
dire straits ahead of winter season.
"Every year, 50,000 Kashmiris come to Kolkata to sell shawls. This year, it is difficult to tell the exact the number of Kashmiris coming to Kolkata. They are still coming to Kolkata. We can tell you the exact figure after November 15," said Mohamad Shafi Lone, general secretary of the Kashmiri Shawl Wholesalers and Hawkers Union.
He reiterated that Kashmiris sell shawls from door-to-door in credit and collect the money for the outfits in installments.
Depending upon the quality of the shawls, the price varies between Rs 1,500 and Rs 10,000. This apart, they also sell Kashmiri handicraft, powder cases, ashtrays, suits, carpets, stoles and blankets.
"The Kashmiris stay at rented houses from November to January in Kolkata and its outskirts. They go back to their home after selling the winterwears," Lone pointed out.
While the mobile services in Jammu and Kashmir were shut down on August 5 after the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution, the state administration on August 2 had issued a security advisory asking tourists to leave Kashmir as soon as possible, mentioning terror threat in the Valley.
However, Jammu and Kashmir was opened to tourists from October 10.
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