With relatively lesser influx of Kashmiris in Jammu this winter, the local business has been badly affected.
The Udhampur petrol bomb attack is considered as one of the main factors for many Kashmiris not visiting Jammu for fear of communal violence. One of the two persons injured in the attack on a Kashmir-bound truck on October 9-10 night later succumbed to injuries, triggering valley-wide protests.
“Yes, we witnessed less business. Very less number of people (from Kashmir) came to Jammu because of Udhampur incident. Otherwise, we see heavy rush of Kashmiris in hotels and markets. This time we suffered badly,” said owner of Taj Hotel in Talab Khitikan, Ashiq Hussain.
“Our business depends on Darbar Move employees and their families and this time around we had lesser customers,” he added.
Ashiq said he has never seen such a decline in business in 50 years of his business experience.
“Whenever, I receive a call from Srinagar. Their first enquiry is how is the situation in Jammu now? This question was never asked in the past,” he claimed.
Mukesh Sharma, a shopkeeper in Shaheedi Chowk area, seconded Ashiq that this winter Kashmiris have come in lesser numbers because of controversies on various issues.
“I have many Srinagar based customers who used to come on every Darbar Move but this time they did not come,” he said.
Hoteliers Association, president, Inderjeet Khajuria said this year they witnessed 15 percent decline in business.
“I don’t think people have not come due to Udhampur incident. There was less snowfall in Kashmir and winter started late and it could be one of the reasons,” said Khajuria.
“Every Darbar Move, all our rooms are booked especially on Chilai Kalan. This time, less number people came here as there was no government in place,” he added.
Chamber of Commerce & Industries (CCI) president Rakesh Gupta told : “It’s a fact and people have not moved from Srinagar to Jammu like it was in the past.”
Gupta said 50 percent of the business has been affected due to this.
“We will never allow communal elements to damage image of Jammu and this has nothing to do with Udhampur incident,” he said.
President, Non-Gazetted Employees Union of Civil Secretariat, Ghulam Rasool told : “Not only Udhampur incident but even non-existence of government kept people away from Jammu.”
He said less number of people have been coming to the civil secretariat in view of Governor’s Rule.
Talking to us, president Raghunath Bazaar Association, Baldev Khullar said: “It’s true that our business has been affected. Besides lesser number of Kashmiris coming to Jammu, tourist arrivals have also declined.”
Khullar said tourists don’t come in large number since the start of direct train service to Katra.
“People have not come with families from Srinagar owing to late snowfall and political uncertainty,” he added.