As the Gujjar crisis in Rajasthan entered its third day, the state’s economy took a dive. Its image as a tourist destination took a serious beating while residents feared a sharp rise in prices as the transport of goods to and from the state has completely stopped.
Around one lakh tourists are stranded in the state, according to K.L. Jain, general secretary, Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Rajasthan. Just as many who had made bookings are struck in Delhi, Agra and other neighboring places.
“The violence has had a very adverse impact on the image of the state as a tourist destination. At this time, we have a large number of domestic tourists coming in because of the summer vacations, especially from south India,” said Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators president Kuldeep Singh. “These people travel by road or rail. But everything is closed and thousands are stranded. Frustration is creeping in as movement has been restricted.”
A large number of tour and travel operators from Europe and America also come down during the off-season. “They come here to inspect the hotels, plan tour packages. Those who have arrived cannot leave while those who had their bookings are struck in Delhi or Agra. No one takes chances with the safety of tourists and once word spreads about the insecure atmosphere, everything will be lost,” he said.
“While the violence may subside in the next few days, it will have already had a long-term impact on the tourism sector,” added Jain.
The transport block also means that no goods have made their way into the state in the past few days. Railway tracks have been uprooted and public transport is non-existent. “Around 6,000 trucks come to the state everyday. Not a single truck has entered it in the last three days as the Agra, Kota and Sikar roads are blocked. We have suffered losses to the tune of crores of rupees. Many trucks have been burnt or damaged,” said Ved Bhusan Sethi, president, Rajasthan Truck Transport Operators Union.
The blockade has forced the thousands of small shopkeepers who work on a day-to-day basis — leaving for Delhi and other states in the morning and returning in the evening with supplies for retailers — to shut shop. “The government must end the crisis as soon as possible,” said Ravi Nayyar, president, Jaipur Sanyukt Beopar Samiti.
Medical services have also been hit. The Sawai Man Singh hospital used to receive hundreds of serious patients everyday from across the state but their numbers have gone down drastically.
Barring those who can afford to fly, nobody can either leave or enter Jaipur.