Updated: January 19, 2020 4:10:00 pm
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) – an apex trade body — on Sunday condemned NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat’s reported remarks that the Union Territory’s economy was not significantly affected by the internet suspension and the data service was only used to watch “dirty films”, and demanded his immediate removal.
“We condemn these remarks. They are spreading venom against the people of Kashmir. Nobody gives him the right to speak like this about the people of Jammu and Kashmir and utter this nonsense against us,” KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq told PTI.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual convocation at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on Saturday, Saraswat said, “What difference does it make if there’s no internet there (Kashmir)? What do you watch on internet there? What e-tailing is happening there? Besides watching dirty films, you do nothing there.”
Ashiq said the whole world knows that the Valley is suffering due to the internet shutdown and the losses to the business sector here have amounted to over Rs 18,000 crore in the past nearly six months.
“We at the Chamber know that our economy has been deeply affected by the suspension of internet services. Every sector of our economy has suffered a great deal. If any person says something like this, it speaks a volume about his mind capacity. He has no right to sit in the NITI Aayog,” he said.
The KCCI recently submitted a detailed report about the business losses in the Kashmir valley to Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu and Union minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal as well as MoS PMO Jitendra Singh.
Ashiq said the Union Territory is going through a very difficult and challenging phase and people like Saraswat at the NITI Aayog can do no justice to Jammu and Kashmir and demanded his immediate sacking.
“People like him are taking advantage of the situation and talking non-sense. We can read between the lines that such filthy minds can do no justice in the NITI Aayog. We urge the government of India to remove such persons immediately as they can do no justice to the job they are assigned to.
“The KCCI is of the strict opinion that business community of Kashmir is going through a very difficult and trying all sorts of ways and means to recover from this difficult time. But remarks like this do not help,” the KCCI president said.
Ashiq said considering the present state of the economy of not only Kashmir but all over the country “which is moving from bad to worse” and the “failure” to formulate any redressive policy by the government and the NITI Aayog, it would have been better if Saraswat would have chosen to maintain his silence.
“However, the statement issued by a person holding a responsible position raises concern at the calibre and mental condition of persons entrusted with serious responsibilities.
“The statement is not only unbecoming, but also maligns the population of Kashmir. The losses caused to our economy is a matter of record and cannot be swept under the carpet by issuance of absurd and factually incorrect statements,” he said.
Internet services, landline and mobile phones were snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Centre’s announcement to scrap special status of the erstwhile state and its bifurcation into Union Territories on August 5.
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While most of the services except mobile internet were restored in Jammu within a week, Kashmir witnessed restoration of landlines and postpaid mobile services and internet facilities to essential services like hospitals in phases.
On Saturday, The Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the restoration of the prepaid mobile service in the Valley after over five months of suspension besides the 2G mobile data service on postpaid connections for accessing “whitelisted” sites across the Jammu division.
2G mobile data services on postpaid mobiles for accessing the whitelisted sites were resumed in only two districts — Kupwara and Bandipora — in Kashmir.
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