- Valley shuts down against govt failure; cops foil aggrieved traders’ protest, arrest their leaders; Azadi camp kept under house arrest
Srinagar: A complete shutdown on Monday marked the first anniversary of the flood that ravaged the Valley last year, while police and paramilitary troopers deployed in large numbers ensured that protests planned by the aggrieved traders did not happen.
The Kashmir Economic Alliance, an amalgamation of traders’ organizations, had called for a shutdown, which was supported by resistance groups and various other organizations, and planned a two-hour-long protest at Lal Chowk against the government’s failure to rehabilitate the victims.
However, police and CRPF troopers sealed off all roads leading to Lal Chowk with barricades and concertina wire. Various other roads and areas, where protests were expected, were also sealed off, Maisuma among them.
All prominent resistance leaders, Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chief Yaseen Malik, Shabir Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Javaid Mir, Showkat Bakshi and others were either detained by the police or put under house arrest.
A small group of leaders of traders’ organisations, however, managed to demonstrate at the Press Enclave and hold a sit-in at historic Ghanta Ghar, but were immediately bundled up by the police in their vehicles.
Entire commercial establishments including shops, fuel-refilling stations were closed while the public transport was also off the roads. Schools, colleges remained closed while the government offices also saw thin attendance.
Six-month in power, the PDP-BJP dispensation is scrambling to rehabilitate the victims because the Narendra Modi-led government of India is yet to release any funds for the rehabilitation.
The previous state government had submitted Rs 44,000-crore rehab plan to the government of India in October 2014, but the business leaders feel cheated because of prolonged delay.
Terming the curbs imposed by the government as “shameful”, President Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation President Mohammed Yasin Khan said, “The government which has gagged the peaceful voice of flood victims can never be our savior.”
“Since last year people, particularly the business community, have been struggling for revival. All our demands including tax exemption and interest waiver on loan have not been accepted,” Khan said.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an apex body of business houses, condemned the government action against the traders’ community.
“It’s unfortunate that the government arrested traders’ leaders Yasin Khan, Showkat Chowdhary and others,” said KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq.
The government of India does not want to see Kashmiri Muslims economically strong. It is suppressing them economically to weaken them politically. Had such a disaster hit any Indian state, New Delhi would have wasted no time in rebuilding it. Anantnag traders have suffered a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore. The All Traders’ Association Anantnag (ATAA) had submitted a list of 5,600 affected traders to the government. About 250-300 traders were provided a paltry compensation. The rest have got nothing. Some closed down their businesses and are earning their livelihood by driving autorickhshaws or selling fruits on carts. I won’t hesitate in saying that Indian government wants every Kashmiri to beg before it. PDP imposed elections on Kashmiris at a time when they were just beginning to come out of the trauma. It sought votes promising rehabilitation but is now enjoying power with BJP. Earlier, NC and Congress failed Kashmiris.
—General secretary ATAA Riyaz Ahmad Bhat
“Kashmiris are being ignored because they are Muslims. PDP is equally responsible because they failed to pressurise New Delhi. It prefers power to people”
—President ATAA Mohammad Shafi Wani
“We condemn government action on peaceful protests by traders”
—Tariq Ahmad Magloo, general secretary Traders Federation Baramulla
“Government has failed on all counts; fruit growers are still awaiting relief”
—Mushtaq Ahmad Tantray, president fruit Mandi Sopore
Reporting by Shabir Ahmad from Anantnag and Mushtaq Ahmad from Baramulla