Economic Blockade Threat Draws Flak

29 July 2008

Srinagar: Various political and trade organizations here have strongly reacted to the renewed threats of economic blockade against Kashmir Valley by the Amarnath Yatra Sangrash Samiti and other groups in Jammu even as the government said security would be provided to the truckers on Srinagar-Jammu highway. The business community is of the opinion that the blockade would have no immediate effect on the Valley since enough stocks were present. “The blockade cannot last for more than a week as it means losses worth crores of rupees to people, especially traders and businessmen, in Jammu,” the chairman, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, M S Baqqal, told Greater Kashmir. He asserted there were enough stocks in the Valley to suffice for more than a month as most dealers were known to be building up their stocks. “In winters, the highway gets blocked for days together but the goods last for quite some time,” he said. Endorsing the optimism, the directorate of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution claimed there were enough stocks available with the retailers in the Valley. “The stocks of petrol and diesel are enough to last for more than a week while the kerosene stocks would suffice for more than a month,” the director, A M Mir, told Greater Kashmir. He said the government would provide security to the truckers carrying essential supplies to the valley. “If need arises we will provide security to the truckers,” Mir said. The Jammu wing of the Oil Tankers Association, headed by the former Shiv Sena patron, Anan Sharma, had Monday extended full support to the Samiti and decided to stop petrol and diesel supply to the Valley till July 31. The highway has been blocked several times since the Hindu groups’ protests over the revocation of forestland transfer to Amarnath Shrine Board flared up in Jammu. The Valley-bound vehicles have been attacked constantly during the past few weeks, disrupting supplies and services to the Valley, while the civil and police administration in the winter capital afforded a free hand to the agitators. Terming the blockade as ‘sheer communalism’, senior National Conference leader, Ali Muhammad Sagar, said the blockade would have least effect on the Valleyites. “The blockade has been imposed by communal hate merchants. Most people in Jammu associated with trade and commerce oppose the blockade,” Sagar said adding, “It won’t have any effect on us but on their own people.” He said that government should take immediate action against the motley group who are holding the entire state as hostage. The Peoples Democratic Party strongly reacted to the renewed threats terming these as the “communal designs of elements with chauvinistic tendencies.” “The government should rein in the communal forces which are disturbing the communal and regional harmony or else the distance between New-Delhi and Kashmir will further widen,” the PDP general secretary, Nizam-ud-din Bhat, said on Tuesday. He said “communal forces in Jammu were hell bent on denigrating the Kashmiri Muslim leadership and wanted to see them starved.”