Traders find govt’s response to losses insulting, threaten protests

Traders find govt’s response to losses insulting, threaten protests

SRINAGAR: Day after the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP coalition began providing financial assistance to flood-hit traders of Kashmir Valley, the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) described the government’s response as “an insult to injury of the business community”.
The federation, which is a consortium of traders’ bodies from across the Valley, threatened to take to streets against the move.
“We reiterate that we do not want relief, but we want compensation, because it was only the negligence of the administration that entire Srinagar including business-hub deluged,” KTMF’s President Haji Mohammad Yasin Khan said in a press statement issued here Thursday.
“The government’s response towards flood-hit traders of Kashmir is unacceptable and insult to the injury of business community. The state is leaving no options for the traders but to take to streets,” he added.
In the first phase of his government’s relief distribution process, Sayeed Wednesday distributed cheques to Srinagar’s 650 smalltime traders who were hit by the floods in September 2014.
At the function held at SKICC here, he also announced turnover-specific compensation scale for the traders.
“To start with, all the uninsured traders and shopkeepers whose turnover is up to Rs 5 lakh will be provided Rs 1 lakh compensation, while those whose turnover is less than Rs 10 lakh will be given cash assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh by the government. The uninsured traders whose turnover was more than Rs 10 lakh, will be given cash assistance of Rs 2 lakh,” Sayeed said.
Khan, however, termed the distribution of relief cheques by the Chief Minister as a “drama”.
“After the SKICC drama we called on Chief Minister and reiterated our demands, which have already been submitted before the government in the form of memorandum,” he said, blaming the administration for the losses inflicted on the traders.
“No warnings were sounded that time by virtue of which we could at least try to save some of our assets,” he said.
Terming business fraternity as “biggest causality of Kashmir dispute”, the KTMF President asked, “If calamity victims in states like Gujarat and Uttarakhand get Rs 5 lakh initial relief from the government, why Prime Minister Nardenra Modi has separate yardstick for Kashmiris?”
Resolving traders’ problems, he said, was “responsibility” of the Chief Minister “if he is really serious towards this burning issue”.
“Otherwise the drama in which PDP’s political activists were given relief cheques whereas genuine traders were not consulted hints that this coalition has some hidden agenda,” Khan said.
He said eight months after the floods, about 40 per cent of traders, including those at Lal Chowk, are yet to resume their activities.
“…Things are feared to take ugly turn if government doesn’t act honestly within an open heart,” he said.