Junaid Nabi Bazaz
SRINAGAR: President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) Muhammad Yaseen Khan Thursday threatened to launch “massive” Valley-wide agitation against the state government if the compensation to flood-affected traders isn’t released by March 31.
“New Delhi as well as the state government has been indifferent to the flood-hit traders. So far, the governments have provided us no compensation. And this approach of the government will force us to take extreme steps in case our demands are not met,” he said in a press conference here.
In absence of any financial help from the government, “most” business centers are yet to restart operations after the floods, Khan said.
“We tell the state government to stop looking at us as tenants and as second rate citizens. We are none of them, but owners of Kashmir,” he said. He asked the state government to take up the issue of compensation with New Delhi, and have it resolved “within the deadline on priority basis”.
“This destruction caused by the floods is because of the state government’s negligence. It is, therefore, the government’s responsibility to compensate us. And until we receive it, we will not leave them,” he asserted.
About the mode of protest, the KTMF president said “this time we will fight from all the possible ways, but the immediate step will be taken after March 31”.
Khan said the Federation had already planned to launch an agitation when the assurances from cabinet ministers including Altaf Bukhari, Haseen Drabu, and Imran Raza Ansari motivated it to give up the idea.
Criticising the role of the banks and insurance companies for their “failure” in helping the traders, Khan said: “Only 50 per cent of Rs 35,000 crore losses was insured and the fact is that the traders got only Rs 2,800 crore. Where would traders get rest of the money?”
KTMF had Sunday met the six-member Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC), which the PDP-BJP coalition has formed to assess the damages caused by the floods.
The list of demands submitted by KTMF to the CSC includes Rs 10, 00,000 as compensation to each affected trader, waiver on taxes and bank loans for 10 years, time-bound insurance settlement of insurance cases, quick building permission, and a single-window clearance system.