Gulmarg, a meadow of flowers and a hot spot for skiing, is now deserted and looks like a war zone after the abrogation of Article 370, with locals looking fearful and concerned.Gulmarg was largely peaceful over the past three decades. Those associated with the tourism sector at the popular site, have suffered losses after the government forces conducted 350 search operations to nab militants, who are believed to have infiltrated from across the Line of Control (LoC). Locals in and around Gulmarg say they are uncertain about their future, as most of them were dependent on tourism for their livelihood, and have lost their jobs since 5 August.People in Nagin-I village of Gulmarg sector, which is situated around 15 km from LOC, termed the abrogation of Article 370 as “a disaster” that has hit their livelihood.Kashmir’s ‘Apple Story’ is a Medley of Fear, Conspiracy — And Hope“India-Pakistan Should Settle Matter Otherwise Poor Will Continue to Suffer”Mohammad Ismail, who lives in a mud house in Nagin- I, says he has never seen such a clampdown in his life. “I would earn Rs 600-700 a day, but since 5 August there is no work. I am idle. I am thinking of going back to my ancestral village in Chandoosa,” he said.The shutdown in the Valley has affected the economy including the tourism sector, after the government asked tourists to leave Kashmir on 4 August.Like Ismail, Mohammad Aslam in Nagin-II village, who works as a tourist guide in Gulmarg, said that since J&K lost its ‘special’ status, he has not able to feed his family. “All has changed now and we don’t know whether tourists will return to Kashmir. Before 5 August hotels were full of tourists,” he said.Speaking about the tensions, he said India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all, otherwise the poor will continue to suffer.Reacting to the government’s claims of providing “job opportunities” Aslam said that similar claims had been made earlier, but nothing has changed.“Talks are the only means through which the situation could become normal. Article 370 should be restored so that peace returns to Kashmir,” he said.Recounting the suffering pf the residents, Aslam said they fear that if India and Pakistan engage in war, they would be the first casualty.Ghulam Qadir, who resides in the makeshift village of Nagin- I, said, “There is fear among the locals that outsiders will settle here. The sudden move by the government has affected every Kashmiri,” he said.Tourism hit as uncertainty looms large in post-370 Kashmir“If Govt’s Claims On Development Are True, Then It’ll Be A Positive Step”A central government’s claims about “development” in the Valley were true, it would make for a positive atmosphere.The residents said that the Army is moving regularly in the villages, and airplanes are hovering frequently, causing panic in the area. Abdul Rasheed, a resident, said that there is additional deployment of the Army since the past 30 odd days, as it is a border area.“We are not able to contact each other after the communication gag imposed by the government,” he added. To communicate with relatives, Rasheed said they have started writing letters to each other.Irfan Ahmad, a local, said if the central government’s claims about “development” in the Valley were true, it would make for a positive atmosphere.“If the government fulfills the claims that they have made after the abrogation of Article 370, it would be positive and a much-awaited step,” he said.Irfan said on 15 August, the local Army unit organised a program in Nagin- II village, in which they spoke about the “benefits” of abrogating Article 370, and said that central schemes would be implemented directly here.“How Will I Look After My Family?”Hundreds of people from several parts of north Kashmir have lost their jobs here, as hotel owners have reduced staff at the world famous tourist destination Gulmarg, which has been shut for over a month now.An employee of a hotel in Gulmarg says, “Hotel owners have reduced their staff. Daily government forces keep surveillance on hotels after carrying out search operations in the area. If someone comes to book a room at the hotel, we refuse them, as it’s a risk. We were 50-60 employees, now we are only 10 employees. We are working on shifts.”Maqsood Ahmad, who works in another hotel, said that last month itself they had to cancel 90 percent of bookings, following the situation in the Valley. Maqsood said they just keep vigil on their property, with no guests coming their way. “We have been directed not to provide rooms on rent,” he said.Ishfaq Ahmad, a tourist guide from Kandi Baramulla, said he used to go Gulmarg every day to earn his living. “I have three daughters and a son. I have no other source of income except tourism. I am suffering a lot,” he said.Jalal-ud-In Khatana, a resident of Nagin village of Gulmarg, who would ride a horse in Gulmarg, is home for the past month.“I would earn Rs 1100-1200 a day. But now I am sitting at home. What can I do? I am worried as to how I can mange to look after my family.”In Gulmarg, locals said that the Army had pasted posters mentioning the “benefits” of the abrogation of Article 370: the posters mentioned “end of corruption”, “allocation of funds from Central government”, “expansion of Bollywood industry”, “equal rights to nomads”, “improvement in Panchayat raj system”, “improvement in sports and tourism sector”.(Irfan Yattoo is a reporter with ‘Rising Kashmir’. Views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.