After 45 days since the Article 370 and 35 (a) was quashed, still, the valley is almost shut down. Even if occasionally restrictions are lifted by the government, fearing threats of the separatists' shop owners keep their shops closed while very few dares to keep shutter half-open to earn, no matter how scanty, a livelihood. Street vendors are scarce to see. The schools and business offices are partially open with presently of marginal staff. As no tourist ventures to visit hotels are almost empty. Outside workers have already abandoned Kashmir because no business activity is taking place. The horse owners and other transportation facilitators have no business and this is why no earning. The apple growers, though at the height of the season, Mandis are closed, traders not paying a visit and most of the apple produce is rotting in the farms making tremendous harm to somewhere Rs. 1200 crore worth apple economy.
The overall economy is at shackles and the poor are suffering from the stiff fall in income. Since winter is approaching, people are going to suffer a lot more to add to their voes. Though many people from the mainland are rejoicing the bold move to so-called final annexation of the J&K to India, the people of the valley and their sentiment, frustration, and persecution at the hands of the unwarranted destiny are feeling that they have been carelessly abandoned. No serious effort to take them into the confidence and share their frustration to assure them of the realistic future that government will bring with serious steps to avoid any further damage to their economy is taking place.
In my recent visit to Srinagar in the private talk with common People I found that they are not angry with the government for house or jail arrests of their political leaders and separatists for they feel both sides misused and deceived them. On abrogation of article 370, many have no opinion as they didn’t know what it meant. What they are worried for is the looming danger of their land grabbing and the possible spoil of their unique culture. But to them, this issue could have been settled with honest dialogue. The imprisonment in their own state is something beyond their comprehension.
On another hand to woo the investors, high ranking officers of state and central government are approaching big Industrial houses across the country. In his recent visit to UAE and Bahrain, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had appealed the NRI’s and corporate houses to come forward to invest in J&K. It is a wonder on what basis they are inviting the investors when the situation in J&K and Ladakh is unstable? Who is going to willingly sell them their lands and offer co-operation to them when they will start building their facilities? The mood in the valley is different. The people of Ladakh are already protesting the possible entry of any industry that could damage the fragile ecology of the cold desert. Though some sections from Jammu are in favor of industrialization, know well that all the efforts of the past have been of little success and article 370 and 35 (a) was never an obstacle as entrepreneurs could start their establishments on leased lands. Then what has been changed except for the constitutional status of the state to make investors rushing to the regions which have its own geographical limitations to form business enterprise of a limited kind?
- Process of taking people of J&K and Ladakh in confidence needs to start to provide them moral support to bridge the gap created by the feeling of distrust and if the government is not coming forward to do this the civil society should come forward to undertake this vital task. Mr. Sanjay Nahar, founder President of Sarhad, has taken initiative in this direction already. He has proposed Pune Model which has designed a code that guides in which manner of the investment in both the UT’s is desirable. Without hurting self-respect of the locals the mutual partnership with them is expected while land ownership and management partnership are expected to rest in the hands of the local partners. This is the only way any investment could be welcomed by the people. Same time, looking at the distress of the farmers, Sarhad has started connecting apple-growers and other farmers directly with the common consumers in the mainland cities like Pune and Mumbai so that they will have opened new market places. A truckload of apples from terrorism affected Doda district already reaching Pune and many more are expected in the nearest future if the consumer response is good. The movement is expected to grow phenomenally across the country. This initiative will help to improve the economic conditions of the farmers to some extent who are suffering from the shortage of buyers today. This will boost the sentiment of the people positively and they will not feel abandoned. Sarhad’s initiative in this direction is certainly commendable. Active involvement of the state governments in this movement is of course solicited, but even if this does not happen, the common people and honest NGO’s should come forward to connect the farmers of J&K with the end consumers to help improve their disturbed economy. End consumers also are expected to participate to help our compatriots.