Photo Credit: Ipsita Chakravarty
We live in Srinagar and have a shop in the Central Government Market in Lal Chowk that sells shawls and Kashmiri handicrafts. It was destroyed in the floods [of 2014] and we suffered damages worth Rs 40 lakh including furniture and other goods. The shop is still shut. We didn’t have insurance and have not received any aid from the central or the state government.
All my craftsmen are also suffering with me. The floods have made me dependent on the business I do in Kolkata every winter. And it’s not just me. Apart from the Lal Chowk area, there are lots of shopkeepers on Residency Road, Khayam Chowk, Maulana Chowk, Battamalo, Bemina etc who are going through the same thing.
The tehsildar and the district collector came for spot visits; they conducted investigations but nothing came of it. At the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised the state Rs 80,000 crore. Why haven’t we got any of it? I appeal to the state and Centre to first use the money for flood relief.
The alliance between the People’s Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party has been no good for us. Before that, the Congress-National Conference alliance did not benefit us either. If we are an integral part of India, why do we get this step-motherly treatment? Why don’t we have the same facilities as other states?
Till today, there are no roads and railways in Kashmir. There are so many power projects in Kashmir. The region supplies electricity to the rest of the country yet we don’t have electricity for many hours a day. The government has sold it all off. Where is the money from those sales? I want development but is this development?