Businesses across Kashmir remained closed on Wednesday against implementation of Goods and Services Tax regime in J&K.
The Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (J&KCC)—an umbrella body of trade, business and civil society formations—had called for a 'Kashmir bandh' that was supported by the Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Huge contingents of police and CRPF men were deployed in "volatile" and restriction-bound areas in Downtown. Concertina wires were erected on roads to halt the vehicular movement.
Areas falling under jurisdiction of five police stations in Downtown were put under curfew-like restrictions to thwart anti-GST protests.
The traders assembled at Lal Chowk and held a sit-in near Clock Tower (Ganta Ghar) against implementation of GST in J&K.
Chanting anti-GST slogans, the protesting traders demanded that the government should not implement the Act as it would "erode state's fiscal autonomy."
"It is not an issue of taxation, but a matter of our identity," said a group of traders.
To disperse the traders, police swung into action and detained scores of J&KCC members including Ajaz Shahdhar, Muhammad Sadiq Baqal, Zahoor Budshah, Hilal Ahmad Mandoo and others. The detained members were lodged at Kothibagh police station.
A senior police official said all traders detained during the protest were released later.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani condemned the police action. "It is highly condemnable. Nowhere in the world are traders and businessmen, who are taxpayers, jailed for their opinion," he said.
Meanwhile, a meeting of J&KCC was held this evening to discuss the implications of GST law in J&K.
In a statement, a J&KCC spokesman said: "Press reports available with us on the GST resolution passed in the Assembly show it to be vague and un-understandable. Unless the real fine-print is made available on how it is going to protect our fiscal autonomy, the matter remains unresolved and burning."
"It was decided to chalk out future course of action after studying the Resolution passed by the Legislature today," the statement read.
The JKCC also expressed deep concern and anguish over continued house arrest of its leaders Mubeen Shah, Muhammad Yaseen Khan and Shakeel Qalandar and demanded their immediate release.