Jammu Bandh

JAMMU observed a complete bandh called by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI). This is the first time after revocation of Article 370 that Jammu observed a shutdown and that too against government policies. The region also witnessed  protests and rallies on the day. Majority of people in the the division had supported and celebrated the withdrawal of J&K autonomy in August 2019. But two years later, a large section of people, especially the traders, have increasingly grown disillusioned with some of the government policies which are perceived to hurt the local businesses. People oppose new excise policy, new regulations on bars and restaurants, new geology and mining rules, restrictions on banquet halls, proposed opening of a chain of Reliance retail stores and the ending of the 149-year-old practice of Darbar Move.

The last one has been a sore point with the traders. The people in Jammu, especially the traders, are strongly opposing the government decision to end the bimonthly darbar. According to them, the ending of the Darbar Move would lead to heavy business losses, as people from one region would stop travelling to another region in large numbers that, in turn, helped the local economy.

The Darbar was based on a sound rationale of governance.  The purpose was to bring the  Government closer to the people in far-flung areas of the state. The people from Jammu and Ladakh would understandably find it difficult to travel to  Kashmir during winters when temperature in the province plunged below freezing point. Similarly, it would be much of travel for the people in the Valley if the Darbar were to be based permanently in  Jammu.

Government rationale for ending the Darbar Move is that it will save Rs 200 crore per year, which will be used for the welfare of the deprived sections. The move came after the union territory administration said it has transitioned to an e-office, following which the moving of Darbar was not needed. The officials have since been directed to vacate their quarters in Srinagar and Jammu - the twin capital cities.

But the Jammu traders lament that ending the movement of thousands of employees and their families to the region would detrimentally affect their businesses. The traders are also sore about what they see as takeover of Jammu businesses and resources by the outsiders. For example, the mining contracts secured by outsiders, the e-auction of liquor shops earlier this year, which left local vendors out, the proposal to open 100 Reliance stores which small traders think will affect their business. These are the issues that the government will need to urgently address. The disillusionment in Jammu doesn’t reflect well on the business-related policies of the government which it should review to keep faith with the people of the region.

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