National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah on Monday said the economy of Jammu and Kashmir is on the “brink of collapse” as every sector in the union territory has suffered losses in the last two years. Addressing a meeting of the party’s constituency in-charges of north Kashmir’s Baramulla District at party headquarters Nawa-e-Subha here, Abdullah expressed concern over “the soaring unemployment” in Jammu and Kashmir and the alleged rising incidents of suicide among the youth.
“The economy of J&K, it goes without saying, is at the brink of collapse. There is no sector of its economy — be it tourism, horticulture, transport, or trade — that hasn’t suffered losses in the past two years,” Abdullah said. The NC leader said the UT’s local economy is already on its “deathbed” due to the ravaging deluge of 2014 followed by demonetisation and the successive lockdowns.
“The series of occurrences over the years also had a backbreaking impact on the people. The ongoing crisis has diminished all hopes of economic revival. The recently announced economic package is insufficient to bring the ailing economy of J&K back,” he said.
Referring to the recent cases of suicides in the valley, Abdullah said the “increased occurrence” of suicides in Kashmir is a “physical manifestation of the sordid anti-youth policies’ of the government “pushing already aggrieved educated and skilled youth towards the wall”.
“The successive clampdown and Covid-induced lockdowns have further compounded the woes of J&K youth by choking the already constrained job sector. There are thousands of unemployed medics, paramedics, engineers, graduates and post graduates waiting for job openings,” he said. “The situation has become much worse as the industrial sector, which is supposed to absorb the unemployed youths, continues to struggle,” he added.
Abdullah said what little opportunities were provided by local tourism, manufacturing, handicraft and transportation sectors, have also been “clogged by the predatory impact” of tumultuous situations since August 2019 — when the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status — in the shape of successive lockdowns and weather vagaries.
The NC leader also exhorted the party functionaries to support the efforts of the administration in the battle against Covid and asked them to help people in whatever way they could.
“We haven’t won the battle against Covid. We are half way towards eliminating it. It requires strengthening of testing, tracing and treatment mechanisms. Stepping up of vaccination drives also holds the key towards improving the herd immunity. Administration is doing its best in combating the virus, a lot needs to be done,” he said.
“But people cannot absolve themselves of their duties. The best the people of J&K can do is to follow the required Covid protocols, government advisories and shun vaccine inhibition. I hope the party functionaries will take the lead in getting themselves and their families vaccinated,” he added.