Jammu: Normal life was hit across the Jammu region on Wednesday amid a day-long strike call given by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) to protest against the alleged directionless policies of the administration.
The strike, which evoked widespread support from almost all opposition political parties and social groups, remained peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere, officials said.
The work in courts was affected by the strike, which was also supported by the Jammu chapter of J&K High Court Bar Association.
The main markets in the city wore a deserted look as shops and business establishments including retail chemist shops were closed, while the movement of public and private transport was thin.
Protests and rallies at various places by traders and activists of National Panthers Party (NPP) in the city marked the strike, which was the first of its kind in the Jammu province after the abrogation of Article 370.
Among other things, the sponsors of the strike are agitated over the scrapping of ‘darbar move’ by the government without consulting the stakeholders, new Geology and Mining policies, restrictions on banquet halls and proposed opening of chain of Reliance Retail stores even as the company on Tuesday evening clarified that that the talk of 100 stores being opened in Jammu is “completely untrue”.
Leading a rally outside the Chamber house here, JCCI president Arun Gupta described the statement of Reliance Retail as “misleading” and said “we are all united and will continue our struggle to safeguard the interests of the people of Jammu region.”
“This government is deaf and dumb and had miserably failed to fulfil its responsibility to safeguard the interests of the traders. They (Reliance Retail) are claiming that they are not opening the stores but the situation on the ground is different,” he said, amid chants of slogans against opening of Reliance Retail stores and alleged discrimination with Jammu.
Another group of traders led by president of Traders Federation WareHouse Deepak Gupta staged a protest at Nehru Market, while the Chemist Association led by General Secretary Prem Sharma also took to streets near the Exhibition ground, terming the statement of the Reliance retail as an “eye wash”.
“We are concerned about 50,000 small shopkeepers who will be rendered jobless if Reliance opens its retail stores. We will not tolerate any decision which we feel is against the interests of the people of Jammu business community,” Gupta said.
Activists of the NPP also staged protests in support of the traders and restoration of statehood.
“We are supporting the strike call given by traders on genuine concerns of the business community and wrong policies of the government,” NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh said.
Almost all opposition political parties including Congress, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Apni Party, CPI(M), Lok Janshakti Party besides several social groups had supported the strike and urged the government to roll back the decisions which are against the legitimate interests of trade and commerce.
The officials said police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength in sensitive areas to maintain law and order.