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Another form of economic blockade (regardless of what Mr. Jaitley and his party men may like us to believe) against Kashmiris but gone are the days when Kashmiris used to remain silent. JKPA – an association of Jammu based pharma traders recently indulged in threatening leading pharma companies of India of dire consequences if they trade directly with Kashmiris. After certain elements (mainly from a right wing political formation) in Jammu & Punjab resorted to holding the entire Kashmir valley to ransom by choking the supply line and thus putting countless patients at life-threatening risk, its the turn of JKPA . Not being able to stomach the fact that Kashmiris have the werewithal to handle this blackmail, JKPA indulges in what they have can do best (or worst). Yet another example of trying to impose a regional hegemony, but thanks to the spirit of Kashmiris they are again going to lose.

But we still have saner voices in Jammu expressing their concern at this criminal activity. This editorial has been taken from widely circulated English daily of Jammu dated 18th Sep 2008, Due to lack of archival links I had to paste it as it appeared else you may not find it tomorrow.

A culpable criminal offence
JKPA’s threat to pharmaceutical firms 
No words can be too strong to condemn the highly irresponsible and most objectionable act of the Jammu-based Jammu and Kashmir Pharma Association’s threat to the country’s pharmaceutical companies of no cooperation in case of their supplying drugs and medicines to the dealers and chemists directly to Kashmir. In a letter, written on August 23 and then repeated on September 3 last, to the companies manufacturing and supplying medicines and medical products the JKPA, an organisation of a handful of stockists and dealers of medicines who enjoy hefty commission as middlemen, has threatened them of boycott in case they supplied their products directly to the Valley instead of routing these through them. What makes the threat even more reprehensible is the tone and tenor of the letter dubbing the traders of medicines and drugs and their organisations in Kashmir as “anti-national”. Clearly the JKPA’s threat is not only a cognizable offence as it clearly violates the Monopoly and Restricted Trade Practices Act (MRTP) but it is also an inhuman act as its purpose is to starve the needy people of the adequate and timely supply of medicines including life saving drugs. The prolonged economic blockade, declared or forced, by the Jammu agitation and in which the trade and commerce bodies regrettably became partners, had resulted in acute shortage of these medicines in the Valley adding to the sufferings of the common people, particularly the patients needing medicines urgently. The JKPA’s latest diktats and threats of non-cooperation to the pharmaceutical firms only compound their culpable offence. The JKPA has acted not only in the most objectionable but also anti-national manner by dubbing the common people of Kashmir or the medical traders as “anti-national”. If the dealers of medicines and chemists have been forced to boycott the supplies from Jammu and have opted to seek supply directly from the manufacturers and suppliers in the country then the JKPA should blame itself for this kind of situation.
On the very face of it the threats hurled by the JKPA for non-cooperation in case of companies supplying direct medicines in Kashmir amounts to a blackmailing tactic. Mercifully and belatedly the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries has disassociated with the JKPA’s irresponsible move though it cannot be fully absolved of the responsibility for such a situation due to their earlier support to the disruption of supplies. They appear to be wiser after the Kashmir traders bodies decision to boycott supplies of goods through Jammu. The JCCI chief has also taken exception to the tone and tenor of the letter of the JKPA to the pharmaceutical companies. But that is not enough. To prove its bonafides the JCCI should take stringent action against the JKPA for its misdemeanour. The silence of the State authorities in this regard too is inexplicable. They should have taken due cognizance of the unfair and objectionable trade practice being resorted to by the JKPA. It is their obligation to ensure unhindered flow of drugs and medicines, as also other essential commodities ” in all parts of the State. The State Government should take up this issue with the central drug controlling agency and the pharmaceutical companies to ensure that they are not cowed down by any threats by disrupting supplies of medicines and drugs to the needy people in any part of the State. 
The situation created by the action of the JKPA again brings to focus the consumers demand for eliminating middlemen and agencies to reduce the costs of essential commodities, particularly drugs and medicines and ensure their uninterrupted supplies. The present system of monopolised and restricted trade practices must be replaced by a system of fair and direct supply to the consumers. One hopes that the present stand-off between the traders of Kashmir and Jammu comes to an end and the shattered mutual trust is restored without any delay. The walls of mistrust and suspicion unfortunately created due to the ill-conceived Jammu agitation needs to be demolished and age-old mutual cooperation in all spheres of life restored for the overall interests of the people and for preserving the State’s unity and integrity. It needs to be understood by all that the regions of the State are so inter-linked and inter-dependent that their going apart or drifting in opposite directions cannot be in the overall interests of the people. The bridges of trust and understanding need to be rebuilt through a process of dialogue in a spirit of understanding and accommodation.

Courtesy: Kashmir Times

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I happened to read the entire transcript of Mr. Arun Jaitley’s interview by one of the most renowned interviewers on a CNN-IBN, one of the channels which at times does try to maintain some objectivity, if not complete. The interviewer did his level best to force Mr. Jaitley to accept his and his party’s follies and all Mr. Jaitley does is evade the question by constantly resorting to falsehood and untenable arguments. Knowing how articulate he generally is, it was a disappointment. I would like to counter some of the assertions he made during the interview.

On being asked if BJP’s policy (on Amarnath land transfer) is inflaming separatism, he replies

I think you are being too naïve when you ask this question. Do you seriously think that the separatists in the Valley have re-launched the separatist movement because of the land issue?

Well done, Mr. Jaitley you have just done us a favour by accepting the fact that the ongoing protests are not related to land-transfer but to the actual unresolved dispute of Kashmir. Isn’t this what the whole of Kashmir is saying?

Land transfer is and was never an issue. This imbroglio combined with the insensitive and humiliating remarks by the ex-CEO of Amarnath Shrine Board against Kashmiri Muslims, did something delayed but inevitable. It shook the people  and woke them from the deep slumber, made them come out on roads and start demanding resolution of the dispute according to the wishes of people. People who had been subjugated for decades now, people who had been humiliated and insulted almost on a daily basis – These are the very people who felt enough is enough, and challenged the might of the great nation against their resolve. Might may succeed temporarily but not for long. The resolve is going to be even stronger next time, even if some may like to believe to have quelled it, the struggle is far from over, it will hit them even strongly next time.

On being questioned that the separatists have been given the opportunity because of the land issue, Mr. Jaitley retorts

….First, the separatists lied to the whole country and to the whole world, saying that Hindu colonisation would come up in the Valley.

If Mr. Jaitley believes the apprehensions were wrong, I’d like to ask him what material bearing does the permanent diversion (and the cancellation of the order) have on the Yatra. There are 1000s of hectares (please note, not 100 odd hectares) which are utilised before, during and after the Amarnath Yatra directly or indirectly by the piligrims to enable them to perform their religious duties. This land has been in use for years and decades now, then why is the BJP and the AYSS hell bent upon claiming that cancellation of land transfer order is tantamount to religious interference. If SASB’s intention was to create better facilities for Yatris (and not at all attempt to change the demography of the valley) shouldn’t Mr. Arun Kumar have been thankful to the local populace for never creating an issue about these thousands of hectares. All he knew was to humiliate and agitate Kashmiris by raising issues like Muslim pollution and Hindu pollution – As if nature cares what your religious beliefs are.

I have no doubt in my mind now, particularly seeing what AYSS (incidentally led by three staunch RSS loyalists) is doing in Jammu that someone saw through their game, stopped them in their tracks and hence put paid to their plans. If Kashmiris today see a parallel between the way Jewish settlements and Palestine problem and the Kashmir’s future, it is not an entirely misplaced fear.

Now let me come to what Jaitley Sb feels is tragic, The interviewer questions him about PDP and NC (what they generally refer to as mainstream parties) also having reacted to the land transfer, he replies curtly

That is the tragedy

Now, it’s Mr. Jaitley who is acting naive (happens to be his pet word). If he thinks that Hurriyat and separatists do not represent the popular opinion in Kashmir, he must conceed that the parties named above surely represent that. Now, if a regional party’s views are called tragic, I do not know then what is less tragic, perhaps a Delhi based party telling Kashmiris what they are supposed to do, what they should say, what they should comment upon and what they should like and dislike. Sorry, Mr. Jaitley you are terribly wrong here. Give Kashmiris their due, don’t think that we cannot decide for ourselves.

Now to something really hillarious, Mr. Jaitley mentions that August – September is not the apple season, then may I know from him what is – perhaps month of March. Needless to say, contrary to the widely accepted fact he says there was and there is no economic blockade – even though you have the boastful comments by some of his party colleagues on how they haven’t and won’t allow trucks to move between Srinagar and Jammu.

The interviewer then counters Mr. Jaitley’s arguments about blockade on the basis of figures released by the president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Mubeen Shah, which mentioned the loss to the Kashmir fruit industry to the tune of 1000 crore all thanks to the blockade of National Highway (thanks to Mr. Jaitley’s partymen and other like minded people). To this he replies

Well, Mobin (Mubeen) Shah is a part of the Hurriyat

Now stomach this, separatists, common people, traders and even the pro-India parties all agitated, and he feels it’s tragic. If everyone in the state is agitated over an issue, this means for them it is a vital issue and not somehting which can be brushed under the carpet. He tries his best to either paint all with the ‘separatist’ brush or resorts to  ‘its tragic’ when “mainstream” political parties find a fault with Jaitley ji’s party policies. Guess he simply cannot stomach the fact that Kashmiris cannot be taken for a ride always.

On economic blockade he tries to comment that even Times of India, Indian Express and Hindustan Times (three of the most widely read newspapers in India) do not know the correct story, then who does.. Ofcourse Mr. Jaitley himself.. No economic blockade. Needless to say he even goes on to say that even the Kashmiri journalists are lieing. Shame!!! To him the talk of economic blockade is a myth perpetuated by ISI. Mr. Jaitley, can you tell me how one truck driver Mohammed Lateef Wani died in Delhi’s AIIMS? Only yesterday, truck drivers in Srinagar bore visible marks of having been beaten in Kathua, where did that come from? Perhaps ISI agents landing in Kathua and beating them up, windscreens broken who is doing it ofcourse drivers themselves for propaganda, Is that what you believe?

Sometime back I heard that a oft repeated lie starts to sound like a truth after some time. Sorry Mr. Jaitley it won’t happen now, The whole world knows it.

Just before signing off, an age old couplet by Allama Iqbal which could be so apt for the party Mr. Jaitley represents and its other allies, for they can never read the writing on the wall when it comes to Kashmir.

Na samjhoge toh mitt jaaoge ae hindustaan waalo
Tumhari daastaan tak na hogi daastaanon mein

Better late than never

iShahnaz

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