December 03, 2023
CITU and Apple Farmers’ Protest in Srinagar

DESPITE restrictions and severe cold conditions, hundreds activists of CITU and Jammu Kashmir Apple Farmers Federation assembled at Press Enclave Srinagar and held protest demonstrations on November 26, against anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer policies of the government. The protesters were shouting slogans against the government.

While addressing the demonstration, CITU president Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami expressed serious concern over problems being faced by the common people. Kashmir is facing its worst power crisis in the last two decades and is reeling under acute power shortage, with people facing extreme inconvenience due to long and unscheduled power cuts at a time when temperatures in the valley have dipped to sub-zero levels. Hospitals are bearing the brunt of the crisis and industries as well as other crucial sectors are suffering too.

J&K is a direct victim of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) and has been put to a disadvantageous position. J&K is made to bear a recurring loss of billions of rupees annually besides limiting its 15000 MW power generation potential, Tarigami said while urging the central government to compensate for these losses.

Raising royalty from existing 12 per cent to 40 per cent in all Centre Sector Hydroelectric Projects (HEPs) in the region is a legitimate demand which should be fulfilled if the union government is serious to streamline the precarious power situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Tarigami said. The government must implement the recommendations made by the Rangarajan Committee to handover two JK based hydro-electric power projects to J&K.

While addressing the demonstration, Ghulam Nabi Malik, kisan leader said that apples provide livelihood to thousands of households of Kashmir but apple farmers are in distress. A major issue confronting the apple farmers is the denial of remunerative price. They are being supplied with spurious pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers, which harm the produce and orchards instead of treating different diseases.

Mohamad Afzal Parry, kisan leader, demanded 100 per cent import duty on foreign apples, provision of fertilizers and pesticides at subsidised rates to apple farmers and cold storage facility to apple producing districts. The crop insurance scheme must be implemented at ground level under the supervision of the government.

Zahoor Ahmad Rather, kisan leader said that transporters are facing immense hardships in the region. They are asked to provide fitness certificates on a monthly basis. Non-local transporters are operating without any permission, which has hampered the livelihood of the local transporters. Preference should be given to local transporters (stakeholders) for starting cab services, he said and demanded roll back of the taxes leveled on these poor transporters.

Abdul Rashid Pandit, trade union leader, said that despite the constitution of several committees for regularisation of daily wagers, casual labourers and other workers, nothing concrete has been done. These workers have been waiting for regularisation for a long time. The scheme workers including ASHAs and Anganwadi workers, helpers who are working on meagre wages, are not being provided wages in time and as per minimum wages act. The registered construction unions, who are the important stakeholders of the construction board are being isolated and harassed, which is against the labour laws.

Instead of providing employment, the administration is snatching the livelihood of employees on flimsy grounds. Recently the government has issued an order restricting employees from protesting or raising their issues. This is colonial law and needs immediate withdrawal.

Others who spoke on the occasion include Mohamad Yaqub Ganie, Ghulam Mohamad Shah, Abdul Rashid Itoo, kisan leaders, Mohamad Younus Dar, chairman Kashmir Tourist Taxi Transporters Welfare Federation and Mohamad Abass, youth leader.

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