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Uncertainty fallout: 60000 carpet artisans suffer in silence

ca. 1970-1995, Lahore, Pakistan --- Pakistani Carpet Factory --- Image by © CORBIS

Srinagar, Nov 18:  It was after years that 50-year-old Mohammad Aslam of Budgam resumed his family business of handicrafts.

Associated with the business for the last more than four decades, he had temporarily given up dealing in carpets after suffering heavy losses in 2015.

 

While previous year’s profit rekindled hope, three month-long internet blockade dealt him a killing blow.

“I have almost 20 carpets ready at my home.  I am not getting any customer. I have borrowed money from people to buy raw material,” he said.

 Like Aslam, nearly 60,000 artisans and hundreds of dealers across Kashmir are currently in distress due to continuing internet blockade.

 Dealers said lack of internet facility in the valley resulted in massive cancellation of orders from August to November.

“We receive maximum orders from abroad in July, August and September.  Lack of internet cost us a fortune. Unavailability of mobile internet and broadband will further put us in debt trap as we are unable to receive online orders for Christmas and New Year,” said Ali Mohammad a carper dealer from Pattan.

Handicraft sector particularly carpets had been hit after it was brought under the ambit of Goods and Service Tax in 2017.

Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC), state head and President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad said dealers have lost all their contacts with the foreign clientele due to internet blockade. “Even if we manage to contact them, they are reluctant to place orders considering the uncertain situation in the valley,” he said.

Ahmad said the valley would export handicraft to the tune of Rs 2000 crore annually to different states and European countries.