SRINAGAR: All Traders Joint Coordination Committee, an amalgam trade bodies in Batamloo, Thursday took out a march to protest the J&K Government’s decision to shift the general bus stand to Parimpora. Traders and transporters are on strike since September 5 when the Srinagar Development Authority accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir police sealed the Batmaloo bus stand on the High Court orders.
Protesters marched along the main road in Batamaloo. They carried black flags and shouted slogans seeking “justice” and opposing the shifting of the bus stand. The coordination committee had called for the march on Wednesday following the standoff that has been going on for two weeks.
The protesters attempted to march to the civil secretariat, but police blocked their march near police-post in Batamaloo. Police used water cannons and chased protesters to disperse them and restore traffic. Dozens of traders were detained and logged in Batamaloo police station.
Some of the traders, however, assembled inside the old bus stand to continue their protests. They demanded immediate release of their top leaders and revocation of their decision. The protesters alleged that government was using judiciary to execute their plans.
Mohmmad Yasin, spokesperson of the committee alleged that government authorities did not consult traders before invoking the decision. “If the government had to take the decision, why didn’t they consult us first? Why did not they think about us after SDA sold shops on high rates saying the shops are located inside and around the bus stand?”
He said that traders completely rely on consumers from different villages. “Thousands of families will starve if (Batmaloo) bus stand is sealed. Who will purchase goods from us? We won’t allow this to happen because it is the matter of our lives” he said.
“There are more than 2000 shops inside the bus stand and we wonder what they will earn? Do they think people will go inside (if the bus stand was moved),” he said.
The protesters claimed that some of the traders have sold their property in order to buy the shops. They said that if government wants to shift bus stand then they should rehabilitate all the traders in Parimpora.
“We understand that rehabilitation is a slow process and it takes lot of time. There are thousands of shops in and around Batmaloo and it will take years to construct buildings there and then rehabilitate us. We cannot afford to take that risk as no one wants to die because of hunger,” another member of the committee said. The protesters said that they will continue to fight for their cause unless everyone including transporters, vendors and pushcarts are rehabilitated properly.