Partial strike in Muzaffarabad over govt apathy
25 November 2006
Muzaffarabad: Shopkeepers observed a partial strike in Muzaffarabad on Saturday to protest against what they called apathy of the government towards rehabilitation of the quake-affected tradespersons. Markazi Anjuman Tajran president Abdul Razzaq Khan said the shutterdown 'in every locality of the ruined capital' had sent a clear message to the authorities that affected traders were no longer ready to believe in hollow promises. But pro-government traders dismissed Mr Khan's assertions saying that majority of shopkeepers had kept their businesses open because the government had announced that it was alive to their problems and would shortly address them. 'I wonder why they gave this call for strike when the prime minister had already assured our delegation that the government will resolve traders’ problems,' said Ghulam Mustafa Lala, a leader of the Traders Joint Action Committee, which was opposed to shutterdown. Witnesses said shops in many localities remained closed with angry traders criticising the authorities for 'turning a blind eye to their plight in the aftermath of the quake.' Sources said the administration, backed by pro-government traders, had taken several measures to thwart the strike. Heavy contingents of police patrolled different parts of town to counter any eventuality and in some areas policemen were seen persuading traders to open their shops. At the otherwise bustling Bank Road, hardware seller Khwaja Mushtaq was beaten up by policemen after an official accused him of being arrogant in his response when asked why he had kept his store closed. The official slapped on the face of the white-bearded trader and when he protested, policemen thrashed and dumped him into a police vehicle, a witness told Dawn. As some TV and photojournalists were capturing these scenes, the official also came down on them describing them as 'troublemakers”.