J&K govt’s iron fist approach to traders strike on flood anniversary: Credibility at stake

The iron first approach of the government to deal with any kind of protest in the valley is symptomatic of a dictatorial approach by an elected government.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: October 7, 2016 5:05 pm
J&K floods anniversary, J&K floods, Kashmir floods, kashmir traders, kashmir traders detained, srinagar floods, srinagar traders, srinagar traders detained, traders detained in Kashmir, Kashmir floods anniversary, Kashmir shutdown, Kashmir bandh, J&K news, Kashmir news, India news Policemen detain Kashmiri traders during a general strike on the first anniversary of the devastating floods that killed hundreds, in Srinagar, Kashmir, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

As the trade bodies in Kashmir have called for a shutdown and protests against government’s “failure to fulfill their promises” of relief and rehabilitation, the J-K government has placed curbs to prevent these protests. It has detained leaders of trade bodies and blocked the roads with barricades and concertina wire.

The iron first approach of the government to deal with any kind of protest in the valley – be it by separatists, traders or government employees – is symptomatic of a dictatorial approach by an elected government.

When the PDP-BJP coalition government took over power in March this year, the government in its alliance agenda, promised to rehabilitate the victims of the floods. But after a year, the rehabilitation has a long way to go. While the Centre says it has given assistance of Rs 5,039 crore – as against an assessed loss of Rs 44,000 crore — less than Rs 500 crores have been distributed among the flood victims.

Read: One year later, high and dry, and angry in Srinagar

When the floods marooned the valley, the central government rejected offers of international aid saying the government will help the people in the valley. That help is yet to come.

To express their anger against this “failure”, the traders had chosen the anniversary of the floods to mark its protest – a democratic right. But the elected state government is in no mood to accept any criticism or dissent.

Read: Kashmir shutdown: Police detain separatists and trade leaders

In the past two decades, successive state governments have been dealing mostly with separatist protests. In such case, to prevent any loss of life, the government would place curbs on the movement of people and detain the separatist leaders.

The coalition government is now replicating this experiment with other sections of society — it isn’t allowing even a peaceful protest by traders or the employees.

Read: Courts struggle to fish out cases swept away in Kashmir floods

When Mufti Mohammad Sayeed joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government in the state, he promised the release of separatist leaders and invoked his “battle of ideas” to deal with them. Now, however, the government’s iron fist approach in dealing with the non-political events -– or even criticism — has put a question mark on the credibility of the government.

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