Left with no work, lockdown-hit Kashmiri artists send SOS for help
Srinagar: After sitting idle throughout the Covid lockdown last year, popular theatre and television actor Hassan Javaid finally had managed to find some work during a theatre festival held in March this year.
As he was still awaiting release of payment from the organisers of the festival, Javaid was forced to sit idle yet again. Like other Valley based artists, he is struggling to make ends meet amid the fresh period lockdown that started last month.
“The only assignment that I or fellow artists of our ‘Firdous Dramatic Club’ got ever since the Covid lockdown of last year, was during one festival of the Cultural Academy in March. And on top of that we are yet to receive its payment. From Doordarshan too, there are pending payments of last 10 years and those episodes have even been telecast. I know some professional artists, who are ready to die,” Javaid told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said they had received assistance from the government last year, but this year they had been left to fend for themselves.
“There are many professional artists in Kashmir that do not have any other source of income. During last year’s lockdown, around 2000 artists were paid Rs. 9000 each that gave us a bit of relief. This year we did not receive anything. The government should at least ensure that it releases our pending payments from Doordarshan and the Cultural Academy,” said Javaid whose ‘Firdous Dramatic Club’ often performs during local theatre festivals.
Artists of other artists’ groups have a similar tale to tell and are seeking monthly stipend from the government till the pandemic was over.
As per the president of the J&K Radio Doordarshan and Stage Artists & freelance Producers & Directors Association, Srinagar, Tariq Javaid, they have already written to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in this regard.
“…..having no other source of income we are in the quagmire being jobless for the last more than a decade. We as such request your goodself to kindly have a sympathetic consideration towards this fraternity and sanction a regular monthly relief of Rs 6000/- or more to each family of an artist until the pandemic is over and we are able to at least move out of our homes to search for our bread and butter. Besides the Govt of India Prasar Bharti may kindly be approached with concrete recommendations for release of backlog and revive fresh fiction programming so that this section of society is able to stablise our economy for honourable survival,” says the letter written by the body of artists, producers and directors.
Other artists’ groups too in the recent past have urged the government to release an economic package in their favour as they had been left with no work due to the Covid lockdown.