THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “I am not worried about jobs or land. But the decision by the BJP government is an assault on Kashmiriyat,” said Zahoor Ahmed Baig, a native of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, while attending to customers at a handicraft showroom in Kovalam. He had been trying to contact his parents in Kashmir hours before Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the decision to end the special status for Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution. But Kashmir remains cut off from the rest of the world and concerns loomed large on the faces of Kashmiris residing in Kovalam.
Baig is getting calls from cousins working in Dubai, who have similar concerns. “The condition of Kashmir was good till Monday. Despite adversities, we have managed to keep Kashmiriyat intact over the years. But I am not sure what will happen now,” said Baig.
By Kashmiriyat, Baig is referring to the social consciousness and cultural values unique to Kashmiris. Around 150 handicrafts showrooms located at Kovalam beach are either owned or operated by Kashmir natives. There are around 400 Kashmiris residing in the area. Many of them settled here as early as 1970 and handcraft Kashmiri shawls and carpets for a living.
Javed Ahmed, 26, came a month ago, after ending his three-year stint in Kuwait, just to be close to home with his family. “My family comprises my parents, two younger brothers and two younger sisters,” said Ahmed, a native of Gulmarg. Both Baig and Ahmed studied up to Plus Two and did odd jobs in Kashmir before looking for work outside to support their families. “I was a tour guide in Gulmarg. But I do not know if I will get any job when I return,” said Ahmed.
M Ahmed Bhatt, a trader settled in Kovalam for 28 years, said outsiders will now grab the jobs and land of Kashmiris, protected under Article 35(A) and Article 370.“It is ‘goonda raj’, that is trying to follow the Israeli model. We expect more curfews, job loss and rising property prices, as a fallout of the decision,” he said.
Be alert, DGP tells cops
T’Puram: State Police Chief Loknath Behera has instructed all district police chiefs to keep a tab on the possible law and order issues that may surface in the state in the wake of the Centre’s move. A statement from Behera said state should be on high vigil following the Centre’s action. “We won’t allow law and order situation in the state to collapse. So I have instructed to deploy more police personnel to prevent any such untoward incidents,” he said.