Kolkata: Weavers of Sonamukhi in West Bengal, almost 3,000 km away from Kabul are having sleepless nights in the wake of the uncertainties in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. The reason is the cascading effect on their trade with Afghanistan.
Sonamukhi has been supplying silk turbans of high quality to Kabuliwallahs since the ’60s but the turbulence back in the strife-torn country has turned out to be a bane. As an aftermath, many traders have taken to weaving Baluchari sarees, as per a report in the Times of India.
Shyamapada Dutta (49), who runs a loom at Sonamukhi and has a shop in Rabindra Sarani, Kolkata says, “We have been in this business for three years. Till last year, I had an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore just from selling these turbans but the trade has come to a sudden stop now.”
The Kabuliwallahs who came to Bengal to sell dry fruits and spices, fell in love with silk weaving. Asit Baran Shoo, another weaver adds, “They gave the first orders for silk turban and liked the products so much that they kept coming back for more and that is how the trade began. Even in 1990s almost around 500 families in the village were engaged in turban trade but the number has now dwindled to around 50 owing to digital printing and a new generation of Afghans discarding turbans.” The prices of these turbans range from Rs 350 to Rs 3,500 depending on the silk quality.
“But the situation looks grim now. We have no idea when things will get better,” informs Md Rasul, a city-based Afghan who has been in Kolkata for over 40 years and deals in garments. And you can’t afford to disagree.