Kashmir watermelon controversy sparks concerns and financial strain for vendors

SRINAGAR — The Kashmir Valley has witnessed a 50% decrease in watermelon sales following concerns raised on social media regarding the safety of consuming artificially ripened watermelons.

Dr Wajahat, a clinical oncologist at a premier hospital, recently cautioned against consuming artificially ripened watermelons during the off-season, citing potential cancer risks.

“This Ramzan, say NO to artificially ripened watermelons. Protect yourself from harmful chemicals and potential chemotherapy,” Dr Wajahat posted on a social media site X on March 8, which garnered support from several other doctors.

Ghulam Nabi Bhat, a vendor, expressed concern over economic losses incurred since the beginning of Ramadan. He said that despite bringing watermelons to the market, nobody is buying them due to claims made by doctors. Bhat urged the government to investigate the matter to help vendors like him avoid further economic losses.

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Bashir Ahmad Bashir, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, while speaking with the news agency KNO, said there has been a 50% drop in watermelon sales in the valley due to the current situation. “Previously, the valley used to receive 12 trucks of watermelons daily, but now there has been a 50% decrease in sales,” he said.

Bashir said the Food Safety Department has taken samples of watermelons, and he hopes for clarity soon. “Health is a priority, but economic losses are also concerning. The government should share the test samples as soon as possible,” he added.

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Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety in Kashmir, Shagufta Jalal, said the department has collected hundreds of samples from various districts of the valley for testing. “The test reports will be available tomorrow,” she said.

Once the report is available, it will be shared with the public to address any concerns, Shagufta said, adding that there have been no adverse findings so far in the surveillance sampling.

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