While whoever can afford it in most parts of India may be depending on cashless Internet wallets or bank cards to tide over the cash crunch unleashed by currency demonetisation, such options are unavailable to the majority of people in the Kashmir valley.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his government's plan to remove Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes from circulation to curb black money, ordinary Indians have faced a series of hardships. But the news of such radical policy change must have hit the separatists in Kashmir even harder.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the home ministry has learned that the separatists, who chiefly depend on hawala money to fund their continuing campaign against military atrocities in the Valley, have expressed their concerns over cash flow to their cadres.
Intelligence officials believe that under the circumstances, the Kashmir agitation will be forced to lie low for the next four or five months, until new banknotes are available in large numbers and can be used to replenish the separatists' coffers.
The reaction among the citizens of the Valley has been mixed. As Scroll.in reported, most shops in Kashmir are still accepting old currency notes, which technically have no value as barter, because they cannot offer credit or debit card transaction options to their customers. The few establishments that do so are unable to operate such modes of payment with any consistency due to the prolonged Internet blockade in the valley.
For consumers, too, the option of using cashless online wallets is not readily available, as mobile Internet has been restricted in the Valley for the last four months. As a consequence, items are selling for much lower prices — with shirts and trousers going for little as Rs 10 — or sometimes for whatever currency the customer may have on them. The lack of change for high denominations like Rs 2,000 has made it worse still for businesses to continue.
Some traders, while expressing their anxiety over the prevailing crisis, admitted that the move by the PM has been seen as one with long-term benefits by a section of the people. However, struggling every day for the last few months to live through curfews, blockades and political unrest, Kashmiris have been burdened with a new woe all of a sudden.
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