Jammu markets wore a deserted look today during a bandh called by a traders' body to protest against several decisions of the Union Territory administration taken after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status. The decisions include the move to end the 149-year-old darbar tradition of shifting the capital.
The strike call by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Jammu, has received the support of all political parties in the region, except the BJP. Known to be a stronghold of the BJP, Jammu is witnessing a strike for the first time since August 5, 2019, when the centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.
The traders' community and other groups, who had welcomed the August 5, 2019 decision, are now protesting against the Union territory administration's decisions.
" A complete bandh is a collective voice of the people of Jammu against the decisions taken by the government. All shops are closed. Transport is off the roads and chemist shops are closed," said Arun Gupta, president of the Jammu traders' body.
Mr Gupta said the economy of the region has been destroyed over the past couple of years due to "adverse decisions" of the administration.
"They are snatching everything from us. Our natural resources like mining, businesses, liquor trade etc. They are destroying our livelihood and economy," he said.
Traders are also worried over reports that some big chains are set to open stores in Jammu and fear that this will hit small businesses.
Also, there is strong opposition to the decision to scrap darbar move. As per the tradition, every winter, government offices would run from Jammu. With officials and their families shifting to the region every year, businesses would do well.
The traders' body said that the decision to end the darbar move would badly hit Jammu's economy. They added that the tradition is also a symbol of coexistence and communal harmony in Jammu and Kashmir.
"There should be no further destruction of Jammu. This bandh is a wake-up call for the government," said Mr Gupta.
During the strike, some groups took out protest marches, demanding a reversal of the administration's decision and restoration of statehood.
"We want restoration of statehood, continuation of darbar move and no company from outside should open stores here," said Sunil Dimple, president of Mission Statehood, a social outfit seeking restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's statehood.