SRINAGAR, Jan 18: Hundreds of traders today staged a protest against Jammu and Kashmir Wakf Board for hiking rent of tenants by ‘3000 percent’ here in summer capital and sought roll back of the decision.
Led by president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, and general secretary of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Bashir Ahmad Kongposh, hundreds of traders – majority of them Wakf Board tenants – assembled outside Auqaf Market here at Budshah Chowk in Lal Chowk area and started sloganeering against the Board.
The traders who were holding banners termed the rent hike by Wakf Board ‘unjustified’ and reiterated their demand of its roll back and intervention of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is chairperson of the Board. The traders marched through various markets of Lal Chowk and then converged at press enclave here.
Speaking to reporters, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, said that there are 1400 Wakf Board tenants and the Board ‘unilaterally’ hiked the rent some months ago. “We held several meetings with Wakf Board but the Vice-Chairman betrayed us by engaging us in negotiations and handing over the cases of tenants to Tehsildar for recovering hiked rent. This is unacceptable,” he said.
Wani said it seems that VC Wakf is also ‘betraying’ Chief Minister by informing latter about the old rent rates. “They are showing wrong bills to Chairperson. We will not accept this in any case. We are asking Wakf to negotiate with us for the decision and we are ready to pay rent according to vicinity value,” he said. The Chamber president on the occasion demanded ‘removal of deadwood’ from the Wakf Board in order to make it ‘sound welfare institution’.