Kashmir internet shutdown spurs joblessness

Srinagar (IANS) Plummeting mobile phone sales due to internet blockade in Kashmir has pushed hundreds of people on the verge of losing their jobs.

Most employees working at mobile outlets in Srinagar have not received salaries since August.

Showkat Ahmad Dar, a salesman at a mobile phone outlet at Residency Road in Srinagar said he has to either quit or seek a transfer.

The lone breadwinner for a family of four said he has not received his salary of Rs 14,000 after Article 370 was revoke by the Centre on August 5.

“One of the reasons our salaries have not be released is because we haven’t been able to mark our attendance online due to internet blockade.”

He said mobile phone sales have dropped by 90 per cent.

“If I can sell 26 pieces, only then my salary will be credited,” he said. “Since sales have slumped, we are almost jobless.”

Arsalan Shah, another employee, said his salary will only be credited after he achieves the target of selling 26 phones a month.

He said his father has a heart problem and he was considering quitting his job to work as a laborer. “It is a tough situation, I have never seen such bad times before,” Arsalan said.

Around 8,000 people are employed in different mobile brand shops across Kashmir.

“We are not selling any mobile phones these days so there is no question of an incentive,” Arsalan said.

Muneer Qureshi, who owns Samsung outlets in Srinagar, said he before the internet blockade he would sell 150 pieces in his two outlets on an average.

“It has now come down to five pieces a day,” he said. “Our regional distributor used to do a monthly billing for Rs 25 crore, now it is just Rs 85 lakh a month.”

He said there are 1,450 Samsung outlets in Kashmir but due the loss of business Kashmir has been put on a blacklist by Samsung.

“They are a Korean company, they want sales,” he said. “After internet resumes, it will at least take a year to recover.”

“We have seen agitations and long spells of unrest in the past, but the situation has never been this bad,” he said. “If this continues we would have no other option but to change our line of business.”

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