He said, “Not just print, every kind of business was hit badly in Kashmir since 5 August 2019."
According to a study by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the business loss in the valley has been over Rs 20,000-crore. These losses have been assessed based on Jammu and Kashmir's gross domestic product of 2017-18.
Ahmed said, more than 300 print firms (including a few multicolour ones) in the valley have been affected.
The impact has been felt the most in the tourism sector which has sub-sectors like houseboats, hotels, tourist transport, shikaras, adventure sports plus the horticulture sector which focuses on apples.
Jammu's Anil Gupta of Krishna Printer and member of Jammu Printers Association (which has 150 print firms) concurred with his counterpart from Srinagar. He said, “Internet shutdowns have impacted us as well. Today, internet shutdown is more than merely an inconvenience. As you know, most print firms rely on connectivity for file transfers and eTendering. In the absence of internet how can we share soft proofs or get approvals from clients. The original idea that was asserted by the government for shutting down communications was to prohibit unrest and rumour mongering, but that cannot be the argument forever."
Shabbir Ahmed said the present disruption has resulted in loss of jobs for thousands of people. He said, “Since there was no work, many print establishments have closed down or are contemplating closure. As a result, skilled workers from outside the state have returned to their home states."
About the future of print in Jammu and Kashmir, Gupta said, “Of course, we want peace and quiet; we don’t want to be permanently in dispute. We hope the government supports the revitalisation of print by providing soft loans and schemes to boost our industry."
Ahmed added, “We don't know how long we can cope with the existing challenges."
Also present at Pamex 2020 was M Gowhar of Exxon Printing Press. The Srinagar-based print firm offers multicolour offset printing.
In December, Kamal Chopra of the All-India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) had organised a print delegation who met with the directorate of industries in J&K. Printers from Srinagar told PrintWeek that “this is a good beginning. But the negotiating team will have to apply constant pressure in order to move things forward. Or else we are doomed."