Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday chose to ignore the main traders’ bodies of the Valley despite a prior invitation to them.
Representatives of the recently constituted State Economic Reconstruction Forum (SERF), an apex group of Kashmir-based business organisations working for the reconstruction in the aftermath of floods, were not called for the meeting with Modi at the eleventh hour.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), two main constituents of the SERF, along with more than a dozen other business, tourism and trade and horticulture organisations, had prepared a memorandum regarding relief and rehabilitation of the flood-hit business community to present it to the Prime Minister.
“Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Rohit Kansal had told us on Wednesday evening that we are going to meet the PM. However, the name of SERF and the main trade bodies was pulled out at the eleventh hour and some small business organizations, who are not flood affected but the darlings of New Delhi, were called for the meeting,” KCCI chairman Sheikh Ashiq Hussain told Kashmir Reader.
Calling it ‘unfortunate’, Sheikh said, “It was a deliberate move to sabotage the meeting of actual stakeholders with the Prime Minister.”
When contacted, Kansal admitted that the traders were denied meeting despite an earlier invitation from his office. “I have no answer to this. This list (for meetings) was sent and cleared by New Delhi,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Mohammad Yaseen Khan, president of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, said, “I don’t know why our meeting did not happen. Even CID people called us and told that we are meeting Modi. We had prepared a memorandum of demands to present to him.”
“Perhaps the Prime Minister had nothing to offer, that is why he did not meet us,” Khan said.
Mubeen Shah, ex-president of KCCI and an active member of SERF, said that it was surprising that in the evening he received an invitation from the state government, “but today I was told that PMO’s officer did not clear my name for the meeting.”
However, he said some business organisations were given access to the Prime Minister and “what SERF wanted to convey to the PM has been probably conveyed to him.”
“It does not matter whether Mubeen Shah was given access to Modi or not, but what matters is what PM can offer to the flood-ravaged people of the Kashmir.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, president of Federation Chamber of Industries, Kashmir (FCIK), who along with three other members met Modi said, he too was dismayed that they did not allow the meeting of two apex trade bodies with the Prime Minister.
“It has sent a wrong signal to the business community of the Valley,” Mir said.
When asked if he was satisfied with his meeting with Modi, Mir said, “The Prime Minister was non-committal.”
“PM was more critical of state government rather than offering us anything. He said, ‘I have already given Rs 1,000 crore; pehley state government se us ka hisab maango (First make state government accountable for that)’,” Mir said.