First Art 370 roll back, now Covid-19, many poor Shikara owners sell boats to survive | KNO

First Art 370 roll back, now Covid-19, many poor Shikara owners sell boats to survive | KNO

Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

Srinagar, Mar 25 (KNO): After facing the four-month long lock down post August 5 last year in the wake of roll back of Article 370, the Shikara owners were anxiously and desperately waiting for the month of march with a hope that tourists would turn in large numbers to Kashmir and their livelihood may pick up again. But God has something else in store—Covid-19, came as ghost and added to their pain and misery forcing many of them to sell their boats to feed their families, who otherwise were on the verge of starvation. According to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), in previous shut downs these Shikara owners to some extent earned money to feed their families and themselves by boarding local riders instead of foreigner tourists, but today the situation is completely different as people are hiding from Covid -19 by locking themselves inside homes making towns look like ghost towns. “It is hard for us to survive in the prevailing situation as we are mainly dependent on tourists for income. At this time of season, flow of tourists is high so we expected that we will recover from previous loses but things are worsening day by day,” says Wali Muhammad president of shikara owner’s association. With Covid-19 lockdown in the valley these Shikara owners are not even getting local customers adding further to their miseries. “After Allah we are supporting one another by sharing our goods and resources”, expressed Wali says. He further added that almost everyone in their community belongs to BPL and it is becoming hard for us to feed our families in today’s conditions. “Dozens of us have sold boats only to survive and to feed their families where little children were on the verge of starvation as our livelihood was entirely dependent on tourists.” Javaid Ahmed, a boatman, said he sold his Shikara against a paltry sum of Rs 72,000 which otherwise would fetch Rs 1 lakh or more. “I had no option as my children and family members had nothing to eat,” he says. “Many of us have done the same thing only to survive.” Tourism in Kashmir is on a death bed. “In wake of coronavirus governments all over the world have imposed travel restrictions so has the Kashmiri administration leaving tourism worst hit” says Wali—(KNO)