KEA Bandh Call Evokes Total Response9 August 2011
Srinagar: Normal life across Kashmir valley was affected on Tuesday following the strike call given by Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA). An amalgam of trade, transport, industry and tourism bodies, KEA had called for Kashmir bandh after police arrested 16 trade representatives the previous day after they tried to take out a peaceful march from Press Enclave to Civil Secretariat. Most of the business establishments remained closed and public transport was also off the road as a mark of protest against the “unwarranted” police action and government’s proposal of introducing fresh and additional taxes. People, especially employees and students, had to face tough time for the want of transport. Government offices and educational institutions recorded thin attendance. KEA has been demanding withdrawal of the property tax, passenger tax, hike in water and fuel tariff, mismanagement of water resources, newly introduced VAT forms, unresolved issue of extension and rehabilitation of outdated vehicles, revision in fees and enhancing of charges by departments like Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Development Authority. While thanking people and constituent members of the association for making the strike a success, KEA said it had no other option but to call for strike to protest the “highhandedness” of government in dealing with them. Terming the arrest of chairman of association, Muhammad Yasin Khan as an act of ‘frustration’ by the government, Secretary General KEA, Siraj Ahmad said they were left with no option but to strike work. “We understand the problems faced by people due to the strike call but we had no other choice to protest the undemocratic act of government on the peaceful march organized by the alliance.” Urging the government to address their genuine issues, Siraj said it was in the larger interests of people if their demands are fulfilled. The constituent members of KEA include Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association (KTMF), Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owner’s Association, Kashmir Flour Mill’s Association, Western Bus Service Association, Mini Bus Transporter’s Association, Tourist Taxi Operator’s Association, Kashmir Fruit Processing Association and Kashmir Sumo Driver’s Association. Chairman KEA who is also president of KTMF said that Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather should resign if he is not able to address the issues of traders and common people. Describing remarks of finance minister on the strike call as ‘hypocritical’, Khan said, “He has been behaving as a hypocritic. First he promises and then he takes a U-turn.” Khan thanked people for making strike call success. “We are grateful to people associated with trade, transport, tourism, and students for supporting our strike call. It was our last resort as we had many times approached concerned authorities for redressal of our issues,” he said. KEA has threatened of agitation on large scale after the holy month of Ramadan if the government fails to address their issues. “The government policies have not only hit traders and transporters but common people also. If our demands are not met, we will organize large scale rallies after Eid,” warned Khan.