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Jammu traders call for day-long strike next week

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Jammu: Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a day-long ‘peaceful’ strike on September 22 to protest the alleged “discrimination of highest degree by the government” with them.

Announcing the strike, JCCI president Arun Gupta said the token strike against “directionless policies” of the government should serve as a wakeup call for it and it should take immediate corrective measures to end the “discrimination” with Jammu region.

“We believe that trade in the Jammu region is being disturbed deliberately as policy decisions are taken in closed rooms without consulting or taking into confidence the stakeholders,” Gupta, flanked by leaders of various trade unions, told reporters here.

“The directionless policies have hit the business fraternity, especially in the Jammu region,” he added.

He said the chamber has raised the issues concerning Jammu traders with the concerned officials from time to time but the government remained unmoved.

Referring to the new excise policy which left several hundred vendors jobless, he said almost after a gap of two months when the government has e-auctioned wine shops, the liquor bars across the Union Territory have been closed as the excise department has sought renewal of licenses and ‘No Objection Certificates’ from over 20 government departments for the smooth running of the business.

“Nearly 250 liquor bars are running in J&K and thousands of people are engaged in this business. The government move has badly affected their livelihood,” he said.

On scrapping the traditional ‘Darbar Move’ from this year, Gupta said the government’s unilateral decision to end the past practice of shifting offices between the twin capitals bi-annually would adversely impact not only the traditional bond between the two regions and their people but also the business community.

“Thousands of families from Kashmir and Jammu used to move along with Darbar to spend winter and summers in Jammu and Kashmir. It has severely affected the traders of Jammu as well as Kashmir regions,” he said.

Gupta also questioned continued capping of the number of guests at banquet halls at 25, saying the government decision has hit the business very hard.

“We request the government to fix the capping criteria of banquet halls as per their size and capacity and allow them to function with 50 percent capacity,” he said.

The chamber president also expressed resentment over the Reliance-like big companies’ proposal to open retail stores in Jammu.

“If this happens, the small shopkeepers of Jammu will be ruined and their shops will be closed. Despite adding business opportunities, the directionless government has snatched away what was in the hands of traders and it is unacceptable,” he said, adding the traders have already borne the brunt of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

Terming as “alarming” the Geology and Mining Department policy on the allotment of mining and extraction contracts, he said the lack of protective mechanisms has deprived thousands of families of their livelihood and exposed consumers to exploitation by a mining syndicate.

“Over 60 percent of mining contracts have gone to the outsiders. From contractors to sand diggers, labourers to transporters who are directly or indirectly associated with the extraction of minerals, all have lost their livelihood,” he said.

Referring to the outreach programme started by the Centre under which Union ministers visit different parts of the Union Territory to review the developmental scenario, Gupta said it seems to be solely meant for Kashmir as practically Jammu is not on their itinerary.

“Those who visited Jammu, they only preferred to meet the leaders belonging to a particular party, ignoring the stakeholders of Jammu region,” he alleged.

He said it appears that the government was acting totally against the interest of the Jammu people and is appeasing the people of the other region despite Jammu being a nationalist region and a staunch supporter of the government.

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