Srinagar, Oct 9: Taking the State Government head-on for its 'anti-people policies,' Valley's apex trading federation Monday called for Kashmir Bandh on Friday against the alleged failure of National Conference-led coalition Government in tackling the LPG crisis.
Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) has asked its constituent members in particular and people of the Kashmir Valley in general to hold protest rallies in all district headquarters on October 12 against the "State Government's failure to deal with the crisis that has arisen out of new LPG policy."
KTMF has received support from Kashmir Economic Alliance- an amalgam of traders, hoteliers, transporters, etc. and other trading bodies for the strike call.
LPG policy of Central Government, that came into effect from September 14, has restricted the number of subsidized cylinders to consumers at six per year. After consuming six re-fills of subsidized cylinders, consumers have to pay non-subsidized rates for getting LPG cylinders which will be notified by oil companies on monthly basis keeping in view the fluctuating crude oil prices in international markets. The present price is Rs 961 per cylinder.
"We fail to understand what is State Government doing? People are running from pillar to post for LPG but instead of providing relief to people, Government is acting as a mute spectator and adding salt to their wounds by giving rhetoric statements which has no relevance on ground," Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president KTMF, said.
Khan said KTMF won't remain a mute spectator to miseries of common people. "Our brothers and sisters have to wait outside the shops of gas dealers for submitting the so called documents. But we fail to understand why the State Government didn't act against the oil dealers who have provided gas connections to gullible consumers without giving them documents," he said adding that if State Government won't increase subsidy on LPG cylinders from six to 12, 'we will launch a massive agitation.'
It is pertinent to mention that oil companies operating here have asked all consumers to get the documents verified and updated from gas dealers in order to continue getting cooking gas.
Attacking Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for "maintaining silence" on LPG crisis, Khan said, "I fail to understand why the CM has not issued any statement regarding this burning issue which has snowballed into a crisis."
He said while Chief Ministers of other States have raised their concern regarding the cap on subsidized cylinders, Omar Abdullah has not spoken a word on this issue. "But when it comes to anti-people policies like FDI, he is the first person to support such issues," Khan said.
KTMF also took a dig at oil companies operating here, stating that these outside companies are looting common people in the State.
"It is an irony that only few selected persons are given gas dealerships who have created their monopoly in distribution of LPG in the Valley. Despite the number of consumers increasing manifolds in the State there are only 30 dealers providing cooking gas to around more than 12 lakh consumers," Khan said adding: "Is it possible for them to do their jobs properly? Oil companies need to sub-let dealerships and have at least one dealer in each area like CAPD have ration depots to cater to the requirements of common people."
Siraj Ahmad, Secretary KEA, said: "We will support KTMF's call for Kashmir Bandh against the LPG crisis as it is an issue pertaining to every person in the Valley."
He alleged that black-marketing is still prevalent while genuine consumers are denied cooking gas for domestic purposes.
Pertinently, civil society groups have given ultimatum to State Government to increase the subsidy cap from six to 12 cylinders or face agitation.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party and employees have taken out rallies against the Government for its "silence" over the issue.
Shahr-e-Khaas Traders Federation, Zaina Kadal, President Nazir Ahmed Shah has also supported Friday's strike call.