Kashmir’s gun makers struggle for survival

Published at February 15, 2018 01:32 AM 0Comment(s)13863views

Quality craftsmanship faces extinction

 

 


Kashmir’s gun makers struggle for survival

Musaib Mehraj

Srinagar:

The art of gun making in Downtown area of summer capital,
Srinagar is on the verge death and gun makers are struggling for
survival.

Gun shops here face a bleak future as the government takes aim at a
trade once synonymous with quality craftsmanship. Tighter regulations
on civilians buying guns in the region have left gun makers struggling
for survival.

Security concerns fuelled by the militancy in the region, stricter
rules on testing firearms, and a shrinking pool of local craftsmen
have added to the pessimism in the industry.

The two gun factories in Srinagar, Zaroo Gun Factory and Subhana &
Sons Gun Factory located few meters away from each other near Malkhah,
the largest graveyard of Srinagar in Khanyar are the only two
surviving gun factories in Kashmir. Both the factories carry a
reputation of making guns that are used for hunting from last 50 years
or more.
Zaroo gun factory was established in 1958 by Ghulam Mohammad Zaroo
while as the Subhana gun factory was established in 1943 by Mohammad
Subhana.
Once Kashmir was famous for its traditional art of Gun Making but
unfortunately the Kashmiri gunsmith industry suffered a blow post
1990’s when Jagmohan imposed an unofficial ban on the making of guns
in 1989.
Though the ban lasted for only two years but the license procuring
procedure was made constricted for gunsmiths leaving them to opt for
other professions for their survival.
Such was the craze for this art that the entire area was named after
the gun making and even today the area where both the gun factories
exist is known as ‘Bandook Khaar Mohalla.’
Currently the craft of Gun making is on the brink of survival as the
situation in Kashmir and its lesser demand has resulted in the
downfall of this art.
The owners and workers at the only surviving Gun Factories in Srinagar
also believe that the art is just a meager formality and is on the
verge of extinction.
“There used to be a time when the art of gun making in Kashmir was a
top notch priority because the situation was completely different then
and atmosphere was liberal also,” said Nazir Ahmad Zaroo the owner of
Zaroo Gun Factory.
Nazir asserted that the Kashmir uprising in early 1990’s led to the
downfall of gun making in valley as the ban was imposed unofficially
on gun making.
“The uprising in 1990’s virtually changed everything in valley and the
art also suffered a major blow because of the ban that was imposed on
gun making for different reasons,” Nazir said.
The downfall of widely popular art in the past led to gunsmiths opting
for other professions for their survival that resulted in benefit for
gunsmiths of Jammu region.
“The decline of gun industry in Kashmir resulted in the increase of
gun factories in Jammu. Even today the art is quite popular in Jammu
region where the demand for gun making is still the same,” he said.
Nazir also believed that the quota of gun making from government has
benefitted Jammu region as the region has upper hand over us and quota
keeps on increasing.
“We have suffered a case of discrimination from the government as the
factories in Jammu used to make 300 guns a year are now allowed to
make thousands of guns. While quota for both gun factories in
Srinagar, has been restricted to a few hundred.”
Nazir is also concerned about his art as he feels the day is near when
the art will completely vanish in Srinagar.
The workers at the gun factory also believe the same even after
spending most of their life in this dying art.
“I have spent more than 40 years in gun making, there was an era
before 1990’s when customers swarmed around gun factories such was the
demand but today the art has died and we earn meager amount of money
out of it,” said Mohammad Amin a gunsmith at Zaroo gun factory.
Amin also asserted that even after giving his everything for the art,
the day is nearer when the gun factories will be a history as the art
is dying its silent death.

 

 musaibmehraj007@gmail.com

 

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