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.