Bandh in Kashmir on flood relief issue, traders arrested

Bandh in Kashmir on flood relief issue, traders arrested

Bandh in Kashmir on flood relief issue, traders arrested

Several leaders of trade bodies were detained here to thwart planned protests against alleged inadequate rehabilitation efforts for victims of last year's floods in Kashmir, which observed a shutdown today.

The Opposition National Conference, which had given the call for bandh besides the separatists on the first anniversary of the floods that left nearly 300 persons dead and caused massive destruction, hit out at the Mufti Sayeed Government for the crackdown, saying it was scuttling legitimate democratic protests.

Police took into preventive custody leaders of Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) including Mohammad Yasin Khan and Showkat Chowdhary in a pre-dawn swoop ahead of their planned protest at Lal Chowk. Several separatist leaders including moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were also put under house arrest.

A police official said the area around Lal Chowk's historic Clock Tower has been sealed and no one will be allowed to proceed in that direction.

Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in numbers to prevent any law and order situation, the official said.

The KEA had called for a shutdown today to mark the first anniversary of the floods and was also planning a symbolic protest.

NC leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah slammed the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government, saying they had made "tall promises" of providing relief to the people "but till this day, we have got nothing".

He warned that such actions will only alienate the people and accused the ruling PDP of "sabotaging" the relief package for the state.

"In a series of midnight raids Mufti Syed has ensured the arrest of all the Trade Body leaders. Their crime? Unhappiness over flood relief.

"All these people wanted to do was register their dissatisfaction at the absence of any meaningful flood relief. Shame on Mufti the Dictator," Omar said in a series of tweets.
He also took a dig at Mufti Mohammed Sayed Government's plan to mark the floods anniversary as revival day.

"If Mufti Sb was so sure people were going to celebrate as his Govt has planned today he wouldn't have ordered these arrests (sic)," Omar tweeted.

"Shows just how desperate they are for their "celebration" to succeed," the NC leader said on microblogging site Twitter.

The opposition National Conference marked the day by holding a blood donation camp. Omar inaugurated the camp by donating blood.

Meanwhile, normal life came to a standstill across the Valley due to the shutdown call by traders bodies, mainstream parties and separatists.

Business establishments, shops, schools and other educational institutions remained closed due to the strike while most of the public transport was off the roads.

Kashmir University has postponed all the examinations which were scheduled to be held today.

The attendance in government offices was thin while the roads wore a deserted look.
Shahidul Islam, a close aide of the Mirwaiz, and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik were also placed under house arrest.

A Hurriyat spokesman said Mirwaiz and Islam were put under house arrested early this morning.

Barring for few days, hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been under house arrest since his return from New Delhi in April this year.

The previous state government headed by Omar had sent a rehabilitation package of Rs 44,000 crore to the Centre but so far the state has received only Rs 5,000 crores, including the Rs 1,100 crore which was in the state Disaster Relief Fund kitty when the tragedy struck last year.

Omar said that a large chunk of the money was deducted by the Centre even before it reached the state.

"They took money for many things in the name of the floods. But those, who suffered losses, did not get anything. Helicopters were used (but) the money was taken from us. Their boats were used here, but the money was taken from us.

"The funds meant for liabilities under Prime Minister's Reconstruction Programme were taken in the name of floods. Additional special plan assistance, which is given to us by the Planning Commission every year to balance our plan, that money was also added to the flood account and taken," he said.

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