GST Row: Kashmir Traders Call for Shutdown Today

Srinagar—Traders in Kashmir have called for a shutdown against the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime even as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s government is facing growing opposition to the reforms from political parties, traders and pro-freedom leaders.

Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu thinking otherwise is keen to implement the new regime saying that traders can’t do business without the implementation of GST. According to him GST is a game changer that is consumer friendly and in no way state government will compromise on the financial autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.

Two traders’ bodies-the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation and Kashmir Economic Alliance — have called for a shutdown on July 1 (Saturday). “There is consensus among traders on GST being a threat to J&K’s identity,” said traders.

President Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation Muhammad Yasin Khan and former president Kashmir Economic Alliance Muhammad Sadiq Baqal addressed two separate press conferences at two different locations in Srinagar city.

The strike call comes a day after government failed to break the deadlock over GST in All Party Consultative Group (APCG) meeting that was called by the Government.

Both the trade leaders while vehemently opposing the implementation of GST in Jammu and Kashmir said that they are ready to make any sacrifices in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir. They said that traders are ready to incur losses but will not budge. “The implementation of GST regime in Jammu and Kashmir will have serious consequences and it will be a blow to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that the traders of Jammu and Kashmir were not against paying tax. “Confusion is being created that we (traders) are against tax, which we are not. We are against the implementation of GST in the state as it will infringe the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

He said that they won’t allow the state government to implement the Indian law here. “We won’t allow it at any cost,” Khan added.

Khan said ‘even if opposing GST, means sacrificing our lives, we are ready for it’. “One Tax and One India is an idea which is not acceptable in J&K. We won’t allow any amendments to the special status of the state,” he said.

He said that they want the government to come up with complete agenda over it and the verbal assurances from the government are unacceptable to the people of Kashmir.

 Muhammad Sadiq Baqal said that traders from Kashmir have decided not to import goods from outside traders. “GST is unacceptable to us and traders can’t be cowed down by the threats that they can’t do business in absence of GST,” he said.

Both the trade leaders appealed business community to observe a complete shutdown and give an loud and clear message to the State as well as Government of India that they are not in favour of GST regime.

He said that besides Kashmir, the people of traders from Chenab Valley are also going to observe Bandh on Saturday.

Khan informed that the members from several districts including Srinagar will participate in protest, which will be held at the commercial Hub Lal Chowk at around 11:30 am.

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