SRINAGAR: A spark ignited by Governor Satya Pal Malik’s order announcing that the Jammu and Kashmir Bank will be made a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) is turning into a blazing fire in the Valley. Now, after political parties, traders and J&K Bank employees, industrialists too have turned against it.
On Thursday, nearly a week after the Governor announced the order, the Industrialists’ Association Khunmoh (IAK), a constituent body of the Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, which is an amalgam of all the state’s industrialists, asked Malik to roll back the order immediately.
IAK called the order a “form of economic terrorism” and said it was a move toward meging the bank with some nationalised one to help thugs to draw money and then escape from India, like business tycoon Vijay Mallya had done.
“We condemn the order. Ask the government to roll it back or face agitation,” Qaisar Shahid Khan, senior Vice President IAK, told reporters on Thursday. “We give an ultimatum to the governor to roll it back by Saturday; otherwise, a massive agitation will be launched.”
Earlier the Kashmir Economic Alliance, led by Yaseen Khan, the All India JK Bank Officers Federation, the bank’s all-India level employees body, the National Conference, the PDP and many other political parties have asked the Governor to roll back the controversial order which is said to impair the freedom enjoyed by the bank. J&K Bank is the only listed company from the state on the stock exchange. It has a current business of Rs 1,36,919 crore, with the majority of its shares belonging to the State of J&K. The bank is an exception in the Indian federal structure, where all nationalised banks are under government control. All the decisions of J&K Bank are taken by its board of directors and its chairman. They are accountable to the Reserve Bank of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the bank’s own internal audits.
The order has now made the directors and chairman accountable to legislators and other government entities, adding to the list of hierarchies to be approached for permission and accountability.
Qaisar said that making J&K Bank into a PSU will be a disaster for the economy as the decision that is supposed to be taken in the interests of people may be taken in the interests of politicians, as has become a ritual now.
“We will not allow at any cost the order to be implemented. We hope that good sense will prevail. The government should also look at Sikkim Bank, which was also turned into a PSU but later turned out to be a disaster,” he added.