Chairman of Mushtaq Group of Hotels and one of the most prominent hoteliers in Kashmir, Mushtaq Chaya, expressed grave concern over the recent spate of civilian killings in Jammu and Kashmir by militants.
On Sunday, two labourers from Bihar were gunned down, taking the number of such deaths in the valley this month to 11. A day before the incident, terrorists shot a gol-gappa hawker from Bihar and a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, Chaya spoke of how the recent killings could tarnish the erstwhile state’s reputation and affect local economic sectors.
Q) Innocent killings are taking place in the valley, because of which the labour force is also attempting to leave. What do you have to say about this?
I express grave concern over the killings of civilians in J&K, including non-local labourers. Kashmir has always maintained peaceful harmony between various communities, and such incidents tarnish the image of Kashmiris.
Q) With what lens do you view these killings?
The non-local labourers come to Kashmir purely for earning their livelihood, and targeting them is highly unfortunate. Such incidents will not only bring a bad name to Kashmir, but will also affect local economic sectors.
Q) How will this affect the economy in Kashmir?
Our economy is dependent on the skilled workforce from outside J&K, who work in many sectors. Therefore, if non-locals leave the region, many sectors will be affected, hampering economic activities here.
Q) Do you think the killings will impact the tourism sector?
The killing of non-locals will also hit J&K’s tourism sector, sending a negative message to travellers. Kashmir has been known for its hospitality and the safety of tourists. Such incidents need to be checked, or travellers will think twice before making plans to holiday in Kashmir. Tourist arrivals have been picking up after Covid-19, but these incidents can again halt progress.
Q) What kind of support do you expect from the government in the wake of these recent incidents?
We request the government to ensure foolproof security to non-locals to help them feel safe and stop their migration. Kashmiris living outside Jammu and Kashmir will also be vulnerable if such attacks on non-locals are not stopped. I express my heartfelt condolences for the bereaved families and pray for the peace of the departed souls.