GULMARG: Nomads working as labourers, sledge drivers and guides in Kashmir’s famed ski resort Gulmarg are feeling the heat of scrapping of Article 370. Dependent on tourist trade for their livelihood, they have been rendered jobless as all hotels and tourist huts in Gulmarg are empty.
“I am a sledge driver. Tourists used to enjoy sledge drive in Gulmarg and I used to earn a good amount of money in a day,” said Ghulam Din, who lives in a dhok (makeshift house) in Nagin-III area, close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the Army-controlled area in Gulmarg.
“It is better to die than to live in a situation where you are unable to provide for your family,” he said. Din’s family comprises three sons, a daughter and two daughter-in-laws, besides his wife.“For over a month now, I have been jobless as entire Gulmarg is wearing a deserted look in the absence of tourists,” Din said.
About 100 families live in three villages (Nagin-I, Nagin-II and Nagin-III) close to the LoC and all of them are nomads belonging to Baramulla district. Gulmarg, which has about 62 hotels having a total of over 5,000 rooms, is looking deserted since August 5.
Abdul Rashid, 65, said the scrapping of Article 370 had rendered people jobless. “We all living in the three villages are totally dependent on tourist trade. But since August 5 we have been rendered completely jobless. If we had not our cattle, our families would have died of starvation,” he said.
Muhammad Aslam, a tourist guide, said, “I used to earn about `1,000 per day. Now I earn nothing. How will I run my family in this situation? It must be the first time when a government has asked tourists to leave the place.” Aslam said nomads are mostly labours and not provided any permanent jobs by any government.
J&K govt lifts ad ban on local newspaper
Signalling a softening of stand towards local newspapers in the Valley, the state administration on Tuesday restored official advertisement to Kashmir’s leading newspaper Greater Kashmir after more than six months. The newspaper’s Tuesday edition had a front page advertisement about benefits of abrogation of Article 370. The government has been publishing almost daily full-page advertise-ments in local newspapers to publicise the benefits of scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into UTs. After the ad ban and grilling of its editor and publisher by the NIA a few months ago, the newspaper had softened its coverage.
Curbs imposed to foil Muharram processions
The government on Tuesday imposed curfew-like restrictions in Kashmir to foil Muharram processions by Shia Muslims. The authorities had deployed police and paramilitary personnel in strength in all the junctions in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley. The security personnel had set up roadblocks by placing concertina and razor wires to prevent movement of people. All the roads in Srinagar leading to city centre Lal Chowk were blocked. The entry and exit points of Shia dominated areas in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley were also blocked by the security personnel.