IOJ&K sees more than $2.4 billion losses since lockdown
SRINAGAR (Reuters) – A lockdown in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) has cost its economy more than $2.4 billion since the Indian government stripped it of its special status, officials of a main trade organisation said on Wednesday.
“In the last 120 days, we have witnessed how each and every sector has bled ... we fear this crisis will further intensify in 2020,” Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed, president of the IOJ&K Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), told Reuters.
The Indian government in August revoked the constitutional autonomy of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, splitting it into two federal territories.
The surprise change in status was accompanied by a severe security crackdown that included the severing of telecommunications links and curbs on travel and the deployment of thousands of troops.
Sectors directly dependent on the internet such as information technology and e-commerce had been “ruined” since the lockdown began in early August, the group said in a report.
“The loss borne by locals are a direct result of government’s decision ... the federal government must compensate us,” Ahmed said. The 85-year-old chamber of commerce includes more than 1,500 large business owners, commodity traders and exporters.
In conducting its survey, it had to send staff out to meet traders and entrepreneurs in person as telephone links were not operating. Tourism, for decades a mainstay of the scenic region’s economy, has been badly hit.
Yaseen Tuman, whose family has owned hand-carved houseboats for more than a century on a lake in the region’s main city of Srinagar, said more than 2,500 tourists came to stay last year.
In 2019, he hosted 1,100 tourists before the August lockdown.
“But only eight tourists have come to stay in my houseboat in the past 120 days. It’s shocking how our businesses have collapsed,” Tuman said.
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