Kashmiris in Kovalam worried about fallout over scrapping of Article 370
“I am not worried about jobs or land. But the decision by the BJP government is an assault on Kashmiriyat,” said Zahoor Ahmed Baig, a native of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, while attending to customers at a handicraft showroom in Kovalam. He had been trying to contact his parents in Kashmir hours before Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the decision to end the special status for Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution. But Kashmir remains cut off from the rest of the world and concerns loomed large on the faces of Kashmiris residing in Kovalam.
Baig is getting calls from cousins working in Dubai, who have similar concerns. “The condition of Kashmir was good till Monday. Despite adversities, we have managed to keep Kashmiriyat intact over the years. But I am not sure what will happen now,” said Baig.
By Kashmiriyat, Baig is referring to the social consciousness and cultural values unique to Kashmiris. Around 150 handicrafts showrooms located at Kovalam beach are either owned or operated by Kashmir natives. There are around 400 Kashmiris residing in the area. Many of them settled here as early as 1970 and handcraft Kashmiri shawls and carpets for a living.