Srinagar, Sep 26: Just 52 days ago,the office of Lelafe, a renowned IT company at Industrial Estate Rangreth, was bustling with activities with more than 100 employees struggling toattend to the calls of their ever-increasing clients.
Sensing that more educational institutes and insurance companies require software solutions, the company had gone into an overdrive to lure more customers and increase its market share through various platforms.
Come August 5, Lelafe had to shut their operations as government abruptly snapped internet services across the valley.
Prolonged internet shutdown in the valley has put the livelihood of at least 3000 techiesworking in various Kashmir-based IT companies on the chopping block.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the software companies have either suspended their operations or shifted their business to outside the state.
Omar Ahmad, a techie, said all the 50 IT companies at Industrial Estate Rangreth have suffered huge losses, forcing them to shift their operations to other states albeit with limited staff.
“We never imagined a situation like this. The situation was much worse in 2016 yet government didn’t snap lease line or broadband internet services. We are at the verge of losing our jobs,” he said.
Khurshid Ahmad, director of Alamdar Softwares, said the companies haven’t paid their staff for the last two months. “We alone faced loss worth Rs 10 lakh in the last two months. Around 50 per cent of the companies shifted their staff to outside Kashmir,” he said.
Post August 5,Kashmir has witnessed 46,000 job cuts in different sectors ranging from IT to tourism to retail.
Hospitality sector is the worst hit with 40,000 employeeslaid-off after government issued advisory asking tourists and Amarnath yatris to leave Kashmir citing militant threats on August 2.
Bashir Ahmad Karnai, who owns three hotels, said the current situation has forced him to cut down his staff strength from 65 to 6.“I had to ask my hotel staff to stay home till situation improves,” he said.
Data released by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) reveal that nearly 80 per cent of 1100 hotels in the valley have been shut for the last two months.
“There are around 300 restaurants, 900 houseboats and 600 shikaras, where the staff strength has been reduced. They are unable to function as the earnings have dropped considerably. Around 5000 tourist cab drivers are suffering because there are no tourists,” said Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, KCCI president.
Similarly, nearly 3000 courier boys have lost their earnings as courier services in the valley has been affected due to the non-availability of internet. All the e-commerce companies too have stopped delivering products in the valley.
“The courier boys would be paid on the basis of commission by the companies. We haven’t laid-off our staff, but these courier boys are sitting idle,”said Qari Zahoor Ahmad, president of KashmirCourier Services Association.
Thousands of private schools teachers fear that they too might be fired as educational institutions continues to remain shut. “We haven’t been provided salaries for last three months now. If this continues we too might be fired,” said a teacher of a prominent private school in Srinagar.