Hyderabad: “90 percent Kashmiri traders returned home from Numaish exhibition,” says Mushtaq Hussain, one of the few Kashmir businessmen who stayed back in the city.
Hussain came from the Kupwara district of Kashmir to Hyderabad in the hope of selling shawls, kurtas and sweaters peculiar to his region. But with the Telangana government deciding to cancel the exhibition, there is little hope for the traders already suffering from poverty and COVID-19 causes loss.
“Meer 25 lakh ka nuksaan hone waala hain kyunki main karz nahi chuka sakta. (I will suffer a loss of Rs 25 lakh because I will not be able to repay my debt), ”says Hussain. According to his account, everything went according to plan until January 2, when the state government suddenly decided to put a cap on the exhibit. What was then a preliminary decision has now apparently become permanent, making the traders, especially those of Kashmir, helpless.
The Exhibition Association returned the Rs 1 lakh he paid for stall rent and returned the GST amount of Rs 18,000 to Hussain. However, the repayment will in no way compensate for the loss because Hussain spent considerable money on the transportation of his goods, apart from expenses on his own travel as well as accommodation in the city.
“Abhi exhibition ki galti nai hain madam, unka bhi loss hi ho raha hain, (It is not the Exhibition Association’s fault. Even they are dealing with losses) ”he continues.
Gowhar Ahmed Wani, a Kashmir dried fruit trader, recounts similar problems. “We do not think of profit. We are only trying to escape the loss by selling the dried fruit to wholesale markets such as Begum Bazaar in the city, ”he says.
Gowhar says his business is unlikely to be operating in Kashmir at present and that is why he has placed all his hopes on the exhibition. “The main customers in Kashmir would ideally be tourists from all over the world. But with the snow covering Kashmir in the months of December and January, tourists are unlikely to flock. Furthermore, with the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has come to a standstill anyway, ”he adds.
Sale outside the exhibition grounds:
In a desperate attempt to keep his business going, Mushtaq Hussain moved some of his parcels outside the exhibition grounds. “Few women flock to the parcels to do their shopping, because I send my shop boys there. However, this step does not help me in profit either. ” he says.
Unlike Hussain, Gowhar Wani is not willing to sell his products on the go. “Abhi kharab ho sakta. Galat cheez nai bechsakte nai logon ko, ”He remarks sincerely.
Kashmir traders have been struggling since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. When asked if the civil society in Hyderabad helped them anyway, the traders informed this reporter that there was not enough help.
Access for women restricted:
To contribute to their misery, women were prevented from entering the exhibition. When this reporter (a woman) tried to enter the exhibit, she was confined. The guard at the gate said that only women are not allowed in the exhibit, but men can continue if they wish. When Siasat.com contacted an official of the Exhibition Association, they said that the Exhibition has already closed and as such women (who are the main customers) can not be allowed to access the few stalls that have yet to be closed.
As another Kashmiri retailer who requested anonymity remarked: “If the whole city is open, shopping malls are open, why are they closing the exhibition alone? It feels unfair and puts a lot of pressure on us.”
The closure of Numaish in 2022 is another example of how the pandemic has seriously affected small-scale businesses.
(Call for help: If anyone wants to help the topics of this article, they can place orders to buy Kashmiri clothes at Mustaq Hussain at 7006918247 and dried fruits at Gowhar Ahmed Wani at 9419025235 or 7006905719.
Source: The Siasat Daily