Unable to ply their trade due to the unrest in Kashmir, commercial transporters on Thursday staged a protest in the summer capital Srinagar against the separatist-sponsored strike which has crippled life in the Valley. The transporters alleged that that they were unable to pay back their vehicle loans as their livelihood had been badly affected due to the continuous strikes, a statement said.
More than 4,500 commercial vehicles have been financed by various banks across Kashmir Valley this fiscal. These vehicles couldn’t make any earning in last three months for paying back loans, officials said. This has become a major reason for protests of commercial vehicle owners and operators. Raising slogans against the protest calendar issued by separatists, the demonstrators assembled at the Press Colony in Srinagar and appealed for relaxation in the shutdown.
Watch: Education Of Young Children Suffers As Unrest Continues In Kashmir Valley
“From past three months we are sitting idle at home. We can’t earn owing to the strike. Our livelihood is getting affected,” said a protester. Protesters said they were unable to feed their families as their savings have been exhausted during the three months of strike.
“We are also unable to bear education expenses of our children and day to day household expenses; some of us even can’t afford for treatment of those ill at home,” they said. Mohammad Shafi, an owner of two taxi cabs, said, “With no business, the interest is accumulating and the bank is not going to waive off interest. This is an addition to the livelihood crisis faced by us. We are badly trapped in a vicious cycle.”
More than 128 tankers have been damaged by stone pelting in the Valley in last two months, and most of these commercial carriers were hired by government departments. The Oil Tankers Association had also suspended supplies to Kashmir after repeated attacks on tankers. Official reports earlier stated that more than 30 tankers hired by Public Health Engineering department were damaged in stone pelting.
Kupwara-resident Bashir Ahmed, who was one of the protesters, said, “Vehicles on contract with hotels, agencies, departments have been de-hired and we are even unable to sell the vehicle for loan payback.” The protesters and their families blocked the road near Lal Chowk for around two hours to register their protest against the prolonged shutdown.