SHOPIAN, India (AP) — Kashmir’s apple orchards, a backbone of the economy that supports nearly half the people living there, are deserted, crops 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.
In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict crackdown.
More than two months later, the region remains under a communications blockade.
Apple growers were expecting a bumper crop this year. Now, they say, losses are in the millions of dollars and the business might suffer its worst year since the beginning of the insurgency that has resulted in almost 70,000 deaths.