Kashmir’s artisans suffer badly amid COVID-19

Srinagar: People associated with handicrafts in Kashmir are struggling to feed their families due to subsequent lockdowns since August 5 last year.

Kashmir remained shut for months after abrogation of Article 370 in August last year and now COVID-19.

Amid this, at least 3 lakh people associated with handicrafts including carpets, papier-machie, shawls, wood carving are finding it difficult to feed their families. Kashmir’s handicrafts are famous across the world due to quality and are man made.

Ghulam Mohammad, 45, a resident of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district has been selling vegetables on a footpath for the last several months.

“All the money I had saved which I earned through carpet weaving has been exhausted. It is over a year now, we are making no earnings through carpet weaving and now selling vegetables,” he told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS). Before August 5 last year, he would earn Rs 600 per day. He had two more people who were assisting him in carpet weaving.

There are so many artisans who have taken up odd jobs to manage the expenses of their families during the COVID.

“We were making earnings even during the worst times. But this time, our business is shut as we are not able to export carpets in international markets,” said Bashir Ahmad, a carpet dealer.

Gulf and European countries form a major customer base for Kashmiri carpet dealers.
They have suffered huge losses as they could not export the goods.

Mohammad Subhan, a papier-machie artist from Srinagar is sitting idle since the COVID-19 began in March.

“We have been badly hit first by lockdown post abrogation of Article 370 and now COVID-19 pandemic. There is no availability of raw material. There is hardly any productivity and sales,” he added.

The Kashmiri craft of papier-machie mainly uses wood, leftover wood pulp and paper waste.

Every year Subhan would participate in various artisan fairs across India like in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Gujarat.

However, this year, these fairs were not organized due to COVID-19.

In Bandipora’s Gada Khad village over 500 people associated with handicrafts are doing menial jobs to sustain their families.

An official said 3 lakh people associated with handicrafts are in bad shape.

He said presently there is no business in the handicrafts sector. (KINS)