Traders outraged over ‘arbitrary’ rent hike by Wakf

Excelsior Correspondent

KCCI President and others addressing press conference at Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/ Shakeel
KCCI President and others addressing press conference at Srinagar on Tuesday. -Excelsior/ Shakeel

Srinagar, Jan 10: Outraged over “arbitrary” hike in the rent of tenants by Jammu and Kashmir Wakf Board, Valley traders today sought constitution of a joint panel to review the rentals and agreements between tenants and the Board and warned of stir against the hike order.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, told a press conference here that the Wakf Board “in violation of its agreement with the tenants has hiked the rent by 3000 percent unilaterally”. “This is arbitrary hike and a one-sided decision by Wakf Board,” he added.
Suggesting constitution of a panel comprising of traders as well as Wakf members, the Chamber president said that the proposed panel will review the agreements and rentals of the tenants accordingly. “We urge Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is chairperson of Wakf, to intervene in the matter and order the constitution of this joint committee to resolve the matter,” he added.
Wani said, “it is unjustified that the Tehsildars have been involved in the collection of rents by the Wakf authorities”. “First they made a unilateral decision and now they involved the Tehsildars which is unjustified and an attempt to harass the tenants,” he said, adding “instead of axing tenants, the Wakf should tell the people what it has achieved so far. They should look at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board”.
“The SMVDSB has constructed university, medical college and done lot of work but our Wakf Board is running in losses despite owning huge properties,” the Chamber president said.
On the occasion, Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) president Muhammad Yasin Khan warned of wide-spread protests if the order of rent hike is not rolled back.
“The Wakf Board has unilaterally hiked the rent. As per agreements with the tenants, they are supposed to hike the rent by 15 percent margin after three years which they are violating themselves. The 3000 percent hike would set precedence and would axe 2.5 shopkeepers of Valley,” he said and added that “if the hike order is not rolled back, we will hit streets and whose responsibility would be wholly on present Government.”