Srinagar: As the Kashmir valley reels under a communications blockade, post scrapping of article 370, there is now news from the valley. There is a ray of hope recently for a Srinagar BPO which was shutting down its operations. More than 80 employees of BPO AEGIS in Rangreth industrial area, on the periphery of Srinagar, were on the verge of losing their jobs after its major client, Vodafone, stopped sending in calls to its Srinagar call centre days before the Eid festival.

Vodafone was the biggest client for AEGIS in Srinagar. The employees in the BPO were given the offer to transfer to other branches of AEGIS in the country or to be laid off with a three-month salary.

Help came from the government after the BPO approached the governor’s office. The government has decided to give a three-month salary to the employees and act as a back end and customer service provider to AEGIS so that it just doesn’t shut down and its employees don’t go jobless.

“We are looking at providing business to this call centre. We aim to increase the number of employees from 70 to 2000 in the next two years”, DC Srinagar Shahid Chowdhary said.

This is good news for the employees of the BPO. Most employees say a payout of three months is just a short term solution but they are looking at a situation where they continue to work without losing their jobs and it doesn’t matter who their clients are, government or private parties.

“During the 2016 unrest, we took stones but kept the business going, we attended office on all days, we supported the company, we don’t want to lose our employment now, we expect a better deal”, said 24-year-old Younis Tariq, an employee of the BPO.

“The employment situation in Kashmir is bad, the problem of unemployment will only grow”, said Sameera, another BPO employee.

The centre has already given a proposal to the government identifying their areas of expertise.

“Our services can be utilised for the DC grievance cell, in government helplines, for providing IT and software solutions”, Suhail Nisar, AEGIS Centre Head, Srinagar said.

And while the employees of the BPO have been given a new lease on life, the view is also that this should not be a cosmetic measure and everything must be done to save the future of young Kashmiri employees.

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