Padma award row

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  • Published 29.01.09

Srinagar, Jan. 29: A Kashmiri businessman awarded the Padma Shri was caught in a controversy after some people argued that he wasn’t a craftsman and didn’t deserve the honour.

The state government’s statement that it hadn’t recommended Hashmatullah Khan, who runs a handicrafts shop in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and whose family here has been in the shawls business for 75 years, fuelled the row.

“I am shocked to see my name being dragged into this episode. I don’t know who recommended my name,” Khan said.

“If this award is for the promotion of Kani shawls, then no person has done what I have done. Only a handful of people knew this craft. I started training two men in 1995, who reluctantly agreed to become artisans. It takes a lot of effort to weave a shawl. Today, by the grace of God, you have 5,000 artisans in the Valley.”

Kanis or wooden sticks with coloured threads, as many as 50 in some cases, are used to weave a weft and an artist can weave a maximum of an inch a day. It takes a year to weave a shawl.

Kashmir chamber of commerce president Mubeen Shah rallied behind Khan and said an “arts body” had recommended his name.