Mushtaq Ahmad Malik could barely recognise his orchard. A thick blanket of snow covered the apple trees, many of them uprooted. Most lay in tangled heaps, branches twisted by the sheer force of nature. And the apples? They lay scattered, most of them no longer fit for consumption. A night of blizzard on November 8 has laid waste the 58-year-old apple-grower’s month’s of back-breaking labour in the picturesque hamlet of Pahnu, a 30-minute walk from his house in Shopian.
For apple-growers of Kashmir, already battling emotional trauma and economic hardships following staggering political changes, the November night’s heavy snowfall has only added to their misery. For Malik, daily life has become a routine since the devastation of his orchard. “(After the snowfall) it took to me three hours to reach my apple orchard from my home. My heart sank on seeing the produce buried under snow,” he says. Around 700 apple trees once stood on his now-flattened orchard spread over just under one acre.