Apple trader in Jammu and Kashmir Photograph:( WION )
Although the administration has published advertisements in the local dailies to encourage people to resume normal life, most of the shops are still shut
The killing of a non-local fruit dealer in Trenz area of Shopian by terrorists has shocked the people associated with the business in Jammu and Kashmir. Most of them feel uncertain about their harvest as they have been struggling to send their produce to the markets across India due to terror threats.
Yesterday, a group of terrorists attacked two apple dealers from Gurdaspur in Punjab when they were in the area to purchase apples from local growers. One among them, who has been identified as Charanjeet Singh died at a local hospital while his colleague Sanjay Kumar is battling his life in Srinagar hospital.
This isn’t the first target killing of a non-local in Kashmir valley after postpaid mobile connections were restored. During the same day, in broad daylight, a migrant labourer hailing from Chattisgarh was shot dead from a close range at Nihama village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama while another person who was accompanying him managed to save his life.
Sethi Kumar was working as a labourer at a brick kiln in the same district and was shot in the head. A similar incident took place on Monday evening when terrorists from the banned outfit, Jaish-e-Muhammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba killed a non-local driver from Rajasthan in Shopian when he arrived there to load apples and deliver them to Delhi.
Most affected by this have been the apple farmers, who have become a soft target of these groups at a time when their harvest was good and ready to move out of the valley.
“We suffered due to shutdown initially. Usually, these are the months to pick apples and sell them. Traders from outside would come to Kashmir and buy apples in bulk but now he (trader) isn’t sure if he would come back alive or not. How would he come?” asks Ali Mohammad, an apple fruit farmer.
Jammu and Kashmir police have now increased security in and around the areas where fruit traders operate and have also pasted posters of two terrorists namely Syed Naveed Mushtaq and Raheel Magray.
Naveed Mushtaq alias Naveed Babu was a constable with the Jammu and Kashmir police who joined banned Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit and became a commander. His name has surfaced in several cases earlier.
These incidents have also left non-local workers and truck drivers in a tizzy. Several migrant labours had left Kashmir when article 370 was revoked fearing hostility.
The business community, in general, is worried too. Although the administration has published advertisements in the local dailies to encourage people to resume normal life, most of the shops are still shut. Officials say the fear of terrorists targeting them has kept the shutters down.
“I feel for the farmers and assure them that all possible security will be provided to sell their harvest and fruits. I would ensure security to those apple growers and others also; who want to indulge in business and this will be our responsibility” Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, Chinar Corps Commander told media at a function.
The Kashmir valley currently accounts for 71 per cent of national apple production. Horticulture contributes 8 to 10 per cent GDP ratio and yearly records 8,000 to 1,000 crore turnover. Official figures reveal that 7 lakh people are directly or indirectly associated with this business in the Himalayan state.