After 40 days of continued internet shutdown and restrictions, voices of resistance have started pouring from Jammu. A joint call for a day-long shutdown on September 16 has been given by the traders’ and transporters’ community in Jammu against the failure of the administration in addressing their issues. The community has accused the government of forcing them to take an “agitational path”.
Two days ago, this announcement was made in a joint press conference convened by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), J&K Transport Welfare Association, Chamber of Traders Federation, and J&K Kissan Council. The members, in the press conference, spoke about their issues and demands that have not been addressed by the government. They also elaborated on the problems faced by the business community in Jammu since after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) President Rakesh Gupta was quoted as saying, “The autocratic and adamant attitude of the Government during the transition time from State to UT has forced all the stakeholders to come together and take an agitational path… On the one hand, the business community is suffering badly because of prevailing situation and on the other hand, the state administration is imposing taxes and penalties without any consultation with the stakeholders.”
According to TS Wazir, chairman, J&K Transport Welfare Association, the transport industry in J&K has suffered a loss of roughly Rs 150 crore owing to the restrictions implemented by the government. Speaking to NewsClick, Wazir said, “Transporters have left the job, others are leaving Jammu and are moving to Punjab and Haryana. Our business is dependent on Kashmir and because of the restrictions, we are grappling with immense losses.”
Because of restrictions and communication shutdown in Kashmir, the truckers and passenger vehicles are suffering the most. “If you talk about passenger vehicles, there are no passenger from outside. The daily commute from Kashmir to Jammu and vice-versa has dwindled. The passenger vehicles are suffering 50% losses.”
The fruit traders from Jammu who have invested in Kashmir Valley are dealing with financial losses and wastage in absence of the transportation and barred communication channels. “The recent notification issued by the municipal corporation regarding levy of hefty user charges, One Time Tax on Motor Vehicles and implementation of Central Motor Vehicles Act 2019 by the Transport Department should be immediately cancelled. The cost of a truck is Rs 20 lakh and the one-time tax is 9% now, which is equivalent to about Rs 2 lakh. While we are losing business, the government is not even considerate of that,” said Wazir.
Speaking to NewsClick, president of Chamber of Trade Federation, Neeraj Anand, said, “The first and foremost difficulty we are facing is that of the closing down of internet. Because of no internet, we are unable to file the income tax returns; so, we are appealing for extension of the dates. Secondly, we need to understand that Jammu region and Kashmir region are interdependent. So, the fruit mandi in Jammu is affected because the supply of apples and walnuts has dwindled substantially for different reasons. So, yes, we are facing difficult times.”