To Break Protest Calendar, Govt To Act Tough Against Traders 

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SRINAGAR: In a bid to restore law and order in restive Kashmir and to equally counter the protest calendars being issued by the separatists, the state government is contemplating to act tough against the traders.

Highly placed sources said the divisional administration has asked the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Development Authority to consider issuing notices to the traders operating from the SMC and the SDA owned buildings cautioning them to resume business forthwith or that their registrations will be cancelled.

Sources said some of the senior ministers recently discussed the matter threadbare with a top official in the divisional administration of Kashmir. The official subsequently called separate meetings with the SMC Commissioner Bashir Khan and the SDA VC Thaseen Mustafa.

Sources said the officials were told that the government was serious to restore normalcy in Kashmir and that it was achievable only if markets reopen.

Sources said the senior official in the divisional administration told the meetings that the best way out was to "legally target the shopkeepers", who are operating from government owned accommodation.

Sources said the meeting was told that around 3,000 shops operate from the space owned by SMC and SDA in prime locations in the summer capital including Batamaloo, Hazuri Bagh, Karan Nagar, MA Link Road and above all the City centre of Lal Chowk.

Officials said they have been asked to serve legal notice to the shopkeepers to resume business within week.

Sources said the process of issuing notices was likely to start by this weekend as the SMC and SDA have sought "breathing period" to consolidate the details of such traders.

"Another plan is to issue public notification in newspapers," said a source privy to the development.

When contacted a senior official in the SDA confirmed to have received verbal directives from a top official in the divisional administration.  "We have sought time (from him) to evolve a people friendly-strategy to achieve this goal," the official told Kashmir Observer, asking not to be identified.

The traders on the other hand said such measures will only fester prevalent crises.  "This Kakar Khan style of administration won't help.  This will only aggravate the problem. If the PDP government or their tainted officials believe they will be able to muzzle our genuine right of dissent, they are mistaken," said Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, President, Muhammad Yasin Khan.

Khan said the traders were waiting for issuance of any such notifications.  "We will fight such oppressive and aggressive measures tooth and nail. And this will be a decisive battle," Khan said adding that the trade community will strictly adhere to the protest calendars as and when issued by the Hurriyat Conference.

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