It’s an extreme call we are forced to take. We are up against a strong cartel with heavy political backing and blinded by very shallow self interest. The cartel known as ALTOA (A collection of tour operators) has declared a boycott against Indiahikes.
Local people – the taxi operators, porters, hotels have joined them in the boycott. Being a small community and population of 1,50,000, the locals are afraid to break free of the orders of the cartel even if it comes at a cost of their livelihood in the dark winters.
We are not too sure if the cartel members understand the implications of their actions. 300 trekkers from all parts of the country are losing out on going for the Chadar trek. The trekkers lose on the leaves they had taken, the purchases and preparation made, the flight ticket costs and not to mention enthusiasm and mental energies.
Apart from the hundred or so people in Ladakh, who get employed by Indiahikes in winter, other local citizens of Leh also lose out. Trekkers are no longer going to be present to eat from their restaurants or buy gifts and curios or see Ladakh.
Do these 300 trekkers have other trust worthy hassle free options of going ahead with the Chadar trek? The answer is almost a No. Contacting a local tour operator and getting a similar experience at a similar cost is almost impossible. Other trek organisations like us are also already fully booked. The only option people have is to cancel going to Ladakh.
It is a very frustrating situation. People want to trek with us. But here we are, with our hands tied because of forced non-cooperation. It almost leads to a violation of the fundamental right of free movement for an Indian citizen in any part of the county. As Indiahikes, we have lost our fundamental right to conduct free trade/business in our own country.