SHOPIAN (J&K): Kashmir’s apple orchards, backbone of the economy and livelihood for nearly half the region’s people, are deserted with fruit rotting on the trees at a time when they should be bustling with harvesters.
Losses are mounting as insurgent groups pressure pickers, traders and drivers to shun the industry to protest an Indian government crackdown.
Apple growers call it a “silent war declared on their stomachs.”
“That’s almost $1,200 (Rs 85,300) worth of produce. It’s all a waste now,” said apple farmer Mohammad Shafi, pointing to a heap of rotten apples thrown into a pit in Wuyan, a small village 60 kms east of Srinagar, the region’s main city.
Kashmir’s pristine mountainous landscapes, ski resorts, lake houseboats and orchards have long made it a tourist attraction. But an armed rebellion has raged 30 years in the disputed Valley.