This Article is From Aug 27, 2010

Kashmir's economic trauma: 60,000 job lost in 10 weeks

Srinagar: The recent Clashes between stone-pelting protesters and security forces in Kashmir has dealt a huge blow to its already fragile economy.

The lifeline of the Valley - the tourism sector, has been one of the worst hit as close to 60,000 people have already lost their jobs due to the tension and unrest.

Till two months ago, a hotel in Srinagar that had 18 employees has only five left now. The rest have been asked to return home.

''The owner has no business because of strikes and curfews. We have no work to do,' said Ali Mohammad, Waiter.

Siraj Ahmad, President, Kashmir Hotel & Restaurant Association said, ''The situation we are going through, it seems that it may go a long way. So if things go like that, laying off will take place definitely.''

As its streets burn with protests, business is disappearing.

Lal Chowk, the business centre of Srinagar has been deserted for almost 10 weeks. With all the shops shut, trading has come to a standstill.

Estimates say the Valley is losing about Rs. 2,500 crore every week primarily in exports, imports and the services industry.

The most visible face of this suffering are the daily-wage earners. Srinagar alone has 88,000 workers who have been jobless for two months.

''I know about 25 people who have lost work and gone home. They call everyday and ask if things are better,'' said a local resident.

Conflict in Kashmir has caused a huge cost over the last two decades. Now the means employed by separatists seeking a solution and government response to deal with the situation is breaking the backbone of people.

Business outlook and confidence has taken a hit. The people of Kashmir are just asking for one thing, to give them lasting stability.