JAMMU, Apr 12: Wine traders staged a protest demonstration outside the office of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) at Trikuta Nagar, here today to express their resentment against the e-auction of liquor vends under new Excise Policy 2021-22 in the Union Territory of J&K.
Scores of wine traders from Jammu and adjoining districts assembled this afternoon in front of BJP office and while holding pamphlets with anti-BJP slogans written on them, stage silent protest.
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While raising anti-BJP, the protesting wine traders said that the new Excise policy 2021-22 has been spelt out to allot liquor vends through an e-auction, which would eliminate local businesspersons from the trade and would benefit only rich capitalists from outside J&K.
“We have been lodging protests, meeting senior BJP functionaries besides Excise Commissioner and even LG Manoj Sinha asking for the reversal of the policy. But no one is listening to us. We didn’t know after revocation of Articles 35-A and 370 we will have to face such a situation,” they said.
The protesting traders said the new Excise Policy is contrary to the previous Government’s policy. “In 2018 the then Finance Minister in the BJP-PDP Government Haseeb Drabu had called us for a pre-budget discussion with stakeholders. We suggested to him that the liquor trade will get certainty if the licenses of liquor vendors are renewed for ten years. The Government agreed and renewed our licenses for five years. Now, this draft policy has done away with the clause and has put all our shops for an auction,” they added.
They said there are 30,000 families directly or indirectly associated with wine business from Jammu and most of the present licensees are widows, senior citizens, and unemployed youth who have no other source of income. The protesting traders questioned the BJP whether they did any mistake by voting the saffron party. “If this is our mistake, we vows that neither we nor our coming generation will ever vote for BJP,” they added.
They further appealed J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina to wake up from slumber and take up their issue with the LG for reversal of new Excise Policy which is against the Jammuites.