NC seeks bailout package for Kashmir handicraft sector

National Conference on Monday said while the government has stepped in to provide relief to poor and migrants, the party said handicraft sector workers have been ignored, saying people associated with the sector merit special attention.

In a statement, former Speaker, Mubarak Gul lamented that during the last nine months thousands of families associated with handicraft sector in Kashmir have been struggling to make both ends meet due to the tumultuous situation followed by COVID19 crises.

“It goes without saying how important handicraft sector is keeping in view the sheer number of work force associated with it. It is one of the largest employers after agriculture in Kashmir,” Gul said.

He said far from reaching out to the workers, the administration has shut its eyes towards their sufferings most of whom live by hand to mouth.

He said a sizeable chunk of population in Srinagar and elsewhere was associated with the sector involving Sozni, Aari, pottery, woodwork, carpet, shawl and other allied vocations.

While pressing for a need to have long term and short term strategy to help such craftsmen stand back on their feet, Gul said it was expected of the government to come to the rescue of people involved in handicraft sector by extending social security measures to them.

“The long term revival plan of the handicraft sector should espouse bumping up of demand by giving zero interest loans to the people employed in the sector, and waving off all existing loans with immediate effect,” Gul said. He said the government should also ramp up its efforts by removing bottlenecks in export and production of the handicraft merchandise. 

The party’s provincial Vice President Muhammad Syed Akhoon, and district President Srinagar Peer Afaq Ahmad have also impressed for the need to support people associated with handicrafts sector in view of COVID19 crises.