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Kashmiri trade in North East upset by quake repercussions

Last updated on: November 08, 2005 18:06 IST
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As the winter sets in, the seasonal Tibetan traders have flocked to major parts of northeast for business in absence of competition from famous Kashmiri traders, who find tough to come to the region in 2005 following the devastating earthquakes that rocked Jammu and Kashmir in October.

''The quake in the north has had an impact of a different kind in the northeast region,'' trading sources said.

The volume of made-in-Kashmir winter garments that flood the northeast markets during November to February every year has seen a drastic reduction in 2005 so far.

Every October, hundreds of Kashmiri traders flock to the region, particularly Guwahati and Shillong while thousands of customers belonging to the middle class eagerly await their arrival to replenish the winter wardrobe. Traders from Kashmir usually do business worth over Rs 3 crore in the northeast every winter as per data available with the business chambers in Guwahati.

Although winter has set in, only a few traders from quake ravaged Kashmir have reached the region so far, indicating that there will by a sharp fall in their total number in 2005.

According to a trader who is among the handful already doing business in Guwahati, many of the winter wear traders will remain busy this year in rebuilding their houses and homes in quake ravaged Kashmir.

''Business takes the back seat when the home is in a mess,'' he added.

As the Kashmiris are having a hard time in maintaining their market in the region, Tibetan refugees from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh have arrived in hundreds to make up the deficiency in the market.

A large number of kiosks have been set up in municipality run markets in different parts of Assam and urban centers in the hill state by Tibetan refugees to display colourful woolen garments, jackets, and a large variety of shawls and blankets. These Kashmiris and Tibetan traders are usual features in the Northeast market during the winter season, notwithstanding the shadow of militancy gun over the region.

The traders are hardly targeted by the ultras as far as the official records with the police in the region.

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