Jew Town’s Kashmiri traders in the lurch

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Express News Service

KOCHI: The pandemic period has not been easy for anyone. The tourism industry and traders who depended on it were hit the worst. Around 450 Kashmiris left their home state after Covid broke out. Kashmiri traders in Jew Town who decided to stay back to look after their businesses are now in trouble after landlords asked them to cough up accumulated rent from the pandemic period. 

“The eviction notice came out of the blue. These traders have been doing business on the lane leading to the synagogue,” said Sajid Khatai, president,  Kashmiri Traders Welfare Association (KTWA).  “Around 1,100 Kashmiris left Kerala during the pandemic. But around 16 families are staying back in the district. We can’t afford to go back. Our kids are studying in the local schools and our shops will be ruined,” he added. 

According to him, the traders have been paying 50 per cent of the rent since the pandemic started. “This had been the rule. But, of late, the landlords have changed their stand and are now demanding the pending rent from 2020. They also want traders to pay full rent from next month when there is no improvement in business,” said Sajid.

According to the traders, an eviction notice was sent to a Kashmiri trader. “The state government has been helping houseboat owners, tour guides and the others in the tourism industry. But it has been keeping mum about us. We have nowhere to go. This is our home,” said Sajid.