SRINAGAR Even as the Valley continues to be on the edge for the 13th running day Thursday, the state government has asked a prominent businessman to immediately evict space allotted to him at Nowgam Tourist Reception Center (TRC) here only because he has been actively highlighting the humanitarian crises on social media.
Sheikh Imran, Director, Kehwah Express, whose firm has been running a fleet of cabs and buses from the Nogwam TRC told Kashmir Observer that during the ongoing siege of Kashmir, he is being constantly threatened by the officials of Tourism department to evict the space allotted to him.
The businessman said he was being victimized as he has been highlighting the prevailing crises in Kashmir and would continue to do so even if it means to sacrifice his life for the cause of humanity.
Narrating his story, the businessman said he bagged the radio taxi tender in 2012 for 5 years and extension of up to 5 more years with a promise of PPP mode. He was allotted a hall and parking space at TRC Nowgam.
In the first instance, the hall was allotted for 1 year and subsequently extension granted for three years through license agreement which ended in May 2016, Imran said.
The businessman said in May this year at the expiry of the agreement he received a letter from Tourism Department that if he was willing to continue with the allotment of the space. I replied in affirmative that I would like to continue but there was no reply from them since, Imran said.
However, in the past days of turmoil when over 40 persons have died and Kashmir continues to be on the boil, Imran said he received numerous phone calls from Superintendent of Police Tourism and other officials to immediately evict the space.
I told him (SP Tourism) that I have already conveyed willingness for extension of the agreement through a formal correspondence way back in May. As he declined to buy my pleas I requested them to issue eviction notice formally in writing and that it will subsequently take at least 10 working days to leave the premises, Imran said adding his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Imran said he subsequently, in the latest he received a phone call from Deputy Director Tourism seeking eviction of the space.
I again told him to convey in writing but he refused to buy my pleas stating that he has directives from the top brass to get the space evacuated within hours or that my resources will be thrown out by the government itself, said Imran.
He said he was being victimized for spreading truth on social media. See Kashmir is on the boil, people are dying, hundreds lie wounded. How can I put a blind eye to this and not report the sufferings through media, Imran said.
He said he was exercising the right to freedom of speech for the cause of humanity. But if speaking truth about Kashmir is a crime, I will do it a million times, he said even as he sought the support of Kashmir Inc.
Official sources said the government was unwilling to extend lease agreement and that he would have to leave the space. The agreement has expired and he has to leave, the businessman said.
Despite repeated attempts, the Tourism Department higher-ups could not be contacted for comments.
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