Srinagar: While the abrogation of Article 370 completes 100 days, Kashmir has suffered Rs 12,000 crore business losses while more than one lakh people have lost their jobs.

Kashmir completes hundreds of days of hartal and internet blackout on Tuesday. Shops have remained shut, and public transport has been off the roads since August 5, when the Centre abrogated special status and downgraded the state into two union territories.

Trade bodies claim that each day of the shutdown, curfew, and restrictions cost Rs 120 crore to businesses in Kashmir. These include tourism, trade, handicrafts, transport, horticulture and other sectors.

“We suffer Rs 120 crore daily losses. More than one lakh jobs have been lost. People in many sectors, from tourism to handicrafts to transport, have suffered. People are now resorting to petty jobs to sustain their families,” said Sheikh Ashiq, president, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Students have lost more than 150 days of classwork in the current academic calendar. There are 250 days in the academic calendar in Kashmir. Of which 100 days of classwork have been lost due to the prevailing situation.

Kashmir has been cut off from the virtual world for the last 100 days, as authorities have imposed internet blackout. From students to job aspirant to tour operator to business people, everyone has suffered due to the internet blackout. Though landlines and postpaid mobile phones have been restored, there are lakhs of poor prepaid subscribers who are unable to reach out to their dear ones.

After August 5, Jammu and Kashmir administration launched an unprecedented crackdown against political parties detaining thousands of leaders including three former chief ministers — Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah.

At least 31 leaders of the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Movement are under detention at the Centaur Hotel after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided state into two union territories.

Hundreds of juveniles were arrested and booked for severe charges like rioting. Officially, the government admitted to having arrested 144 juveniles in Kashmir. Police detained boys as young as nine-year-old in Kashmir in the last 100 days.

For the last 100 days, Kashmir has been a no-go area for tourists, and people associated with the tourism sector suffered huge losses after the lockdown. Empty shikaras, vacant houseboats and deserted hotels present a grim picture of the tourism sector. Shikarawallas have turned vegetable sellers to eke out a living and sustain their families.

On the streets of Srinagar, the people have introduced a new system seem to prolong the agitation. Every day the markets open for three hours in the morning to allow people to buy essentials. During the day, markets remain shut, apparently to protest against the abrogation of the special status.

“August 5 will go down in the annals of history as a day when Indian democracy and its lofty ideals of communal harmony, amity and nonviolence nurtured over decades became a casualty, which does not auger well for a vast and diverse country like India that exemplifies unity in diversity,” said Kamal.

The Centre’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ to bring over 20 European Union lawmakers suffered a setback when Kashmir observed a complete protest shutdown last month.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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