Military lockdown hits hard apple farmers in IOK » Kashmir Media Service

Srinagar, September 19 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, as the military clampdown continues, the multi-crore apple trade has reached an all time low, hitting at the economic spine of the territory.

Ripe apples are rotting in the orchards due to continued lockdown which was imposed by Narendra Modi-led Indian government on August 5 when it repealed special status of occupied Kashmir.

The market in the North Kashmir’s Sopore town – usually packed with people, trucks and produce at this time of year – is empty.

In one of the world’s largest apple growing regions, weeks-long lockdown has cut transport links with buyers in rest of the world, fruit growers and traders, plunging the industry into havoc.

At dawn late last week the market in Sopore, a town known locally as “Little London” for its lush orchards, big houses and relative affluence, was deserted, its gates locked.

“Everyone is scared,” a lone trader, rushing to an adjoining mosque for morning prayers, told media. “No one will come.”

Farmers and fruit traders say the clampdown is stopping them from either getting their produce to market or shipping it out to the rest of world.

Business people who speak to media say it is not just the fruit industry that is reeling – two other key sectors of Kashmir’s economy, tourism and handicrafts, have also been hit hard.

Shameem Ahmed, a travel agent who owns a houseboat in Srinagar, said this year’s tourist season was completely wiped out. “August was peak season, and we had bookings up to October,” he said. “It will take a long time to revive, and we don’t know what will happen next,” he added.

At a major chamber of commerce in Srinagar, some members said the continuing suspension of internet and mobile services have paralyzed their work, including the ability to file taxes and make bank transactions.

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