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Amid COVID-19 induced lockdown dailywage workers battle for survival

We might survive the deadly wave of Covid-19, but poverty will kill us, rued Aijaz Ahmad an auto-rickshaw driver who has not earned a  penny in last two weeks.

For him upcoming Eid is just like any other day given his financial conditions.

“I have an ailing father to look after, mother who is on medication, wife and one-year-old kid. All my savings have been exhausted. Now local charity organisations provided me with a food kit, but it has hurt my ego. I would prefer to die working rather than seek alms,” Ahmad said.

Dailywage workers in Kashmir are caught between the devil and the deep sea as the COVID-19 on one hand is consuming lives and on the other hand COVID-19 induced lockdown is hitting them economically.

Muhammad Maqbool, who works as a mechanic in busy Maisuma in city centre, is worried about the future.

Having two daughters and a wife to look after, he is finding it difficult to manage his daily expenses.

“My family is not allowing me to venture outside because of COVID-19. Otherwise I would have started doing labour work at any construction site. The situation is bad for people like me who have lost three years due to one reason or the other. The COVID has further dealt a body blow as even going outside is inviting trouble and at home you have nothing to eat.”

President Kashmir Trade Alliance, Ajaz Shahdhar said that the government had ordered traders and shopkeepers to close their shops but who would compensate them for the loss.

“Recently Rs 25000 were announced for move employees. We are not against it, but why nothing was given to the traders, daily wagers who also suffer due to COVID-19,” he said adding that the move employees who would come to Srinagar from Jammu or stay in Jammu would be paid Rs 25,000 in view of the COVID situation.

“Traders, businessmen, dailywagers are being pushed behind the wall once again, which is a total injustice,” Shahdhar said adding that the traders had been going through tough times for the last two years.

“Economy has shrouded itself, and the economic and financial situation is not hidden from anyone”, he said.

Shahdhar said that the first trade loss in the last two years had been around Rs 50,000 crore, as a result of which trade, industry, trade and tourism sectors in Kashmir had come to the brink of collapse.

President, Retailers Association of Kashmir, Farhan Kitab said that the business community including all retailers and daily wagers need a comprehensive package from the government not just a loan rescheduling or cosmetic measures.

“A well thought out package to take the private sector out of the financial mess is needed. It is now the third year in a year we are incurring losses due to none of our fault,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced to provide Rs 1000 per month financial aid to a certain section of registered workers.


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