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Galwan faceoff: Kashmir pashmina artisans suffer as supplies take a hit

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File photo

Srinagar: It was after three months of lockdown that 62-year-old artisan Muhammad Ramzan Mir of Khanyar had received orders for pashmina shawls.

Anticipating higher demand for the Pashmina after lockdown, Mir immediately contacted his supplier in Ladakh for the raw material to meet the deadline.


Things, however, didn’t go according to Mir’s expectations. A violent face-off between Indian and Chinese army at Galwan valley left 20 soldiers including a colonel dead.

With the result, the road link between Srinagar and Ladakh was closed and communication lines snapped in forward areas of Ladakh.

Fearing huge loss, Mir is at wits end as to how to inform his customer about the new development.

“We had some raw material available in Kashmir, which has been exhausted. If we don’t get the raw pashmina wool, then there will be no production for another couple of months,” he said.

Kashmir Artisans Rehabilitation Forum said the valley artisans buy 80 percent of the pashmina wool from Ladakh shepherds.

The heightened face-off between India and China has unnerved the pashmina weavers and dealers of Kashmir. Nearly one lakh families are associated with shawl weaving in the valley. 

“We have been demanding a raw material bank from the government, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” said Parvez Ahmad Bhat, president of the Artisan’s Forum.

Bhat said the artisans have been sitting idle for the last one year as the exports of handicrafts have dipped post-August 5.

“If the situation persists, weavers, dyers and other people associated with the processing of Pashmina shawls will be rendered jobless,” Bhat added.

Ladakh entrepreneurs said the current India- China faceoff has already started affecting the people associated with the production and sale of Pashmina.

“Our entire business depends upon the situation in Kashmir. Shutdowns have been deeply affecting our pashmina trade as the price of per kilogram of Pashmina wool fell by Rs 300 for the last one year,” said Zakir Zaidi, a Kargil based entrepreneur and owner of Changthangi Lena Pvt Ltd.

Sonam Tsering, General Secretary of All Changthang Pashmina Growers Cooperative Marketing Society, Leh, claimed the ongoing tension between India and China will affect the overall production of Pashmina in Ladakh as the area near the LAC forms the grazing field for the goats.

“China’s interference has caused huge problems for the nomads. The face-off is currently going in grazing lands. When goats won’t have enough grazing area, it certainly means a dip in the production of pashmina wool in the coming months,” said Tsering.

He said they couldn’t send enough Pashmina to Kashmir last year due to the restriction after the abrogation of article 370.

Officials at the Department of Handicrafts said the current situation in Ladakh won’t impact the handicraft sector in Kashmir.

“We don’t have now enough dependence on Ladakh for Pashmina. They have entered into contracts with different companies. We have been importing almost 1-1-5lakh kilogram pashmina every year from Mongolia,” said Assistant Director Handicrafts department Mushtaq Ahmad Shah.