Skinned

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An October 2007 photograph showing the destruction of seized furs in Srinagar outskirts. The destruction ordered by the supreme court was carried out by local official in presence of a senior judicial officer. Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Fur and furriers were a part of Kashmir’s economy, providing employment to thousands of people. A blanket ban on fur trade made it extinct in Kashmir. A Kashmir Life report.

Under intense pressure of the wildlife activists, New Delhi banned all the trades that survive on wildlife. It came in a package with ban on all kinds of hunting, commercial or otherwise. Kashmir’s fur business was the immediate target. A shocked artisan-dealer community sought compensation, forgetting the artisans in the first instance. It became a long story of how it was managed. First it was enumeration of the stockists and dealers – 225. Second, the stock inventory they had: more than 100 thousands skins, 30,000 odd garments and around 7,500 fur bags. Finally, the government decided to pay the compensation worth Rs 9.50 crores.

In the second stage, the artisans organized to get their pie. They counted 30 thousands who had genuinely lost their jobs. Then there was dilly-dallying over the compensation. The government wanted to destroy the stocks and later pay the money. A protracted battle followed and finally the government started paying. After the government paid Rs 14 crore to all the concerned and destroyed the stocks, Kashmir lost a centuries old industry craft.

Though Kashmir’s fur craft was never dependent on the local raw material alone – tons of skins would come from outside. interestingly the ban on fur trade and raging armed conflict has kept hunters away, and helped wildlife preservation and growth.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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