SRINAGAR: The State Economic Reconstruction Forum (SERF) on Saturday threatened to take out a “massive march” from Banihal to Uri to protest alleged failure of government of India to rehabilitate the people affected by last month’s devastating floods in Kashmir.
“Had it been any other state of India, they would have gone the extra mile to help the victims, but when it comes to Kashmir they have double-standards,” said GM Dug, president of Kashmir Hoteliers Association.
“We are not seeking alms,” said Mohammad Yaseen Khan, chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), “we demand our right which. Only 40 percent of shopkeepers in Lal Chowk have insurance claims. What about the rest? What is government’s policy on their plight?”
Dug, Khan and others where addressing hundreds of traders who held a road show at Lal Chowk to demand rehabilitation of the flood-hit business community.
Various trade bodies, including the KEA, recently joined hands under the banner of SERF to demand rehabilitation and compensation for the flood-hit people.
SERF members said the losses incurred by the trade, commerce and industry are huge and the owners have no capital to restart their operations. “It is heart wrenching to see the destruction of our business sectors,” said Jan Mohammad Koul, president of the Kashmir Traders Federation.
“We are all tax payers, and now when the time has come for government to repay us they have left us high and dry,” Koul said. “The criminal silence of the government of India is regrettable. Neither are they allowing international aid into Kashmir nor are they themselves doing anything.”
The SERF also accused banks of failing to deliver at this hour of need. “The banks have not only failed to deliver but are making capital out of the miseries of people,” said another SERF member Mohammad Sidiq Baqal. “They are cheating us in the name of insurance companies.”
The SERF members said the RBI guidelines emphasiszing on immediate relief to the people have been deliberately ignored and delayed. Interest for the month of September has been levied on all accounts.
They said that six weeks have passed since the floods but the governments in New Delhi and Srinagar have done nothing for rehabilitation of the people. “Both the governments have shifted their priorities from floods to elections,” they said.
“If India doesn’t wake up to this moment and help the flood-hit people of Kashmir, then they will see who we are and what we are capable of,” Yaseen Khan, the KEA chairman, said, as the traders marched through the Residency Road and assembled at Lal Chowk.