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Tata's closure in Kashmir punctures hope raised by bigwigs visit

india Updated: Nov 27, 2012 18:47 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times
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Ashfaq Ahmad (37) (name changed), an IT engineer from Srinagar, got married in 2009 immediately after securing a job in one of the country's leading cellular brand Tata Docomo. Four years down the line, Ahmad, father of a child, is distressed whether to relocate outside Kashmir or join the six lakh plus jobless youth of the valley.

The decision, announced earlier this month, by the Tata Tele-Services Limited to wind up its cellular and broadband service to around 50,000 consumers in the valley has both around 150 employees and dozens of franchise distressed. They are hunting for new avenues of earning in a very grim market of the valley, which adds exponentially to unemployed figures every year.

"The shock has been that the decision of the company has come just a month after Rahul Gandhi (Congress general secretary) and Omar Abdullah (Kashmir chief minister) hosted tycoons of Indian industry, including Ratan Tata, with new hope of creating jobs and investment in the state. But Tata's coming now seems nothing but a photo-op," said Ahmad.

In October, Rahul, flanked by leading industrialists, including Ratan Tata, made a rare visit to Kashmir University where students interacted with the business tycoons. Tata's decision to wind up has dented the spirit raised by the industrialists, who promised to invest in the valley and create more jobs.

The company has asked employee to relocate only after they qualify an in-house interview. "The company's (Tata's) decision has come as a shock," said Rayees Ahmad, who worked in the sales department.

The company, however, expresses helplessness. "An apex court verdict cancelled our licenses for three circles including J&K. The option for participating in the re-auction was dropped because we found the reserve price for spectrum extremely high, which could impact profitability. We decided to wind up instead," said Saroor Hussain, the company's corporate communication.

Started in 2008 in the state, the company will formally wind up its services by January 17, 2013. The company is preparing a full and final draft for both customers as well as franchises, who claim to have made huge investment.

Sources said the company is to announce a refund policy for customers who purchased plug-in and other devices from the company.

"I had invested huge money to set up infrastructure as a franchise. I deposited security money too with the hope that I will secure my career. But my future hangs in balance again," said a franchise, with a BBA degree, on the condition of anonymity.