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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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