KEA chairman says business community being pushed to the wall
Srinagar: A team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided a prominent business house in Srinagar on Thursday. The business group asserted that the raid was “routine as in case of other export businesses across India”.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, one of the directors of the Al Khuddam business group, Sheikh Ashiq, said, “Our group is in the export business and such raids are a routine affair if there is any delay (in payments).”
Al Khuddam is a leading private operator for Hajj services. It also deals in Kashmiri arts and handicrafts and other businesses.
He said that a team of ED sleuths, more than a dozen in number, searched the company’s office chambers in Srinagar and also his home. “They came in the morning and searched our home as well as our office for several hours,” he said.
Ashiq said that the ED keeps an eye on businesses that deal in exports. “It is a routine affair in other states of India. Whenever there is an issue, the ED appears (for questioning),” he said.
“We coordinated with the (ED) team and we are hopeful (that) we will come clean,” Ashiq said, adding, “We trust their (ED) investigation.”
There were some reports that the ED team was accompanied by sleuths from the Crime Branch (CB), but officials of the CB denied any such involvement.
The J&K Police, though, did assist the ED sleuths, confirmed Srinagar police chief Imtiyaz Ismail Parray. He, however, denied any role in the operation. “We don’t have any details. The case is being dealt with by the ED,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, sharply reacting to the raids being conducted by the ED and NIA (National Investigation Agency) on the business community in Kashmir, Chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Muhammad Yasin Khan, said that the government was “using such agencies to systematically cripple the business community”.
The business leader threatened to launch an agitation “should the government fail to bring an end to this conspiracy.”
He termed the latest spell of raids as a “ploy” and said, “The government is pushing Kashmir Inc to the wall though witch-hunting.”
“Enough is enough. We cannot see our civilisation being crippled through such psychological warfare. Let New Delhi and the PDP-BJP government in the state be aware that if such repressive tactics are not immediately withdrawn, the business community of Kashmir will be left with no option but to come on the streets for a decisive battle,” Khan said.
“The raids on business community have proved beyond reasonable doubt that New Delhi and the state government have a secret pact to disempower Kashmir Inc,” he said.