Amarnath land row affects fruit business in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Aug 4 : Though good rainfall coupled with moderate temperatures this year yielded a bumper crop, the fruit industry of Kashmir worried as they are not able to send the fruits to markets as agitators are blocking the Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Jammu in a protest against the revocation of land allotted to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

Horticulture is the second biggest industry in the valley and most of the produce is marketed outside the valley. The shutdown has lead to a major loss in fruit industry.

According to the growers, they have incurred losses in millions due to the ongoing protests in the valley.

"We have incurred loss of crores since shrine board agitation. Before this, even we had incurred losses. Our trucks were loaded with pear and apples were looted in Samba, Vijaypur and Udhampur," said Mohd Yousuf, president of Kashmir fruit growers association.

The truck drivers are even scared of going out and those who dare to deliver the product are forced to return half way.

"I had apples and pear loaded in my truck, but I had to return back half way. The owner of the fruits was even shocked that I had returned with the fruits and every thing is rotten. I left three days ago but no one allowed us to cross Lakhanpur," said Shabir Ahmad, a truck driver.

The shutdown has affected the tourism industry and now the fruit industry is even on the verge of getting wiped out.

The fruit growers are totally shattered by the loss. Fed up with the losses incurred because of the agitation in the Jammu region, the Kashmir-based fruit and vegetable growers want the government to help them out of the prevailing situation.

"We are incurring a loss of crores daily. The growers have to either sell their land or commit suicide," said Mohd Yaseen, a fruit dealer.

The revocation of the allotted land to the shrine Board has catalysed a massive protest in Jammu resulting in shutdown and curfew for last few weeks.

The protestors have reportedly caused damage to the trucks loaded with fruits and have caused a terror amongst the fruit dealers and truck drivers causing a great loss to the fruit industry.

ANI

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