SRINAGAR, Jan 23: Normal life was severely hit across Kashmir as transporters observed strike today to protest hike in taxes and other charges by State Government. However, the transporters called off the strike that was earlier scheduled for three days.
The call was given by Kashmir Transporters Welfare Association and it has been supported by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF).
In view of the strike, the public transport including buses, mini-buses, cabs and auto-rickshaws were off the roads across Srinagar and in other districts of the Valley. Only private transport was visible while some buses of State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) were seen plying on city routes. At fewer places, public transporters were seen enforcing the strike by stopping cabs and auto-rickshaws.
The strike resulted in massive inconvenience to the commuters and many of them were seen resorting to hitchhiking from two-wheelers and four-wheelers in order to reach their respective destinations. Several people preferred to walk long distances while the worst affected were students who were scheduled to appear in examinations and patients.
People had to foot their distance to offices and it took them two hours to reach the destination. “We are facing lots of difficulties due to transporters’ strike call… There is no transport arrangement from Government,” said a pedestrian.
The call for strike by transporters has been given to press for their several demands including withdrawal of yearly passenger welfare fund and rollback of hike in fitness and other fees for renewal of documents. A transport leader said that they already suffered massive losses last year due to five-month long unrest in Kashmir valley and instead of rehabilitating them the Government is pushing them to wall by hiking taxes and other charges.
“We were hoping for financial package from Government so that we could recover but instead of that the Government is resorting to arbitrary tax hikes. What will we do when we have to pay bank installments and other charges and at the same time feed our families? Where shall we go? We have been forced by State Government to go for strike,” he said.
This evening, General Secretary of Transporters Welfare Association, Mohammad Yousuf, said there will be no strike from tomorrow as they have been invited by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for negotiations.