India: Traders in BJP Stronghold Go on Strike as Big Retailers Enter Jammu and Kashmir

© AP Photo / Bikas DasSupporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cheer with party flags as they attend an election rally addressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mathurapur, south of Kolkata, India, Thursday, May 16, 2019
Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cheer with party flags as they attend  an election rally addressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Mathurapur, south of Kolkata, India, Thursday, May 16, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.09.2021
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The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), a trade body, said in the past eight months that they have been trying to convey their problems to the federal government, but officials are not willing to meet and discuss issues, forcing them to call for a protest.
On Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir trade bodies and various political parties called for a day-long shutdown strike in the Jammu region-- a political stronghold of the ruling BJP within the Union Territory.
The strike is primarily in response to a government proposal that big companies like Reliance should be able to open 100 stores in Jammu, triggering local small and medium-sized businesses.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is an Indian multinational. RIL's diverse businesses include energy, petrochemicals, natural gas, retail, telecommunications, mass media, and textiles.
The trade body, JCCI, had alleged that the BJP government in the region has been “marring business” for the "past two years”.
“We don’t have one issue. We have several issues. And, government officials are not listening to us,” JCCI president Arun Gupta told reporters.
“The Reliance stores are coming up in Jammu. The Reliance is not opening one store but hundreds. So where will our small traders go?” Gupta said.
“Reliance has infrastructure. It has human resources. How can small traders compete with it? They will give jobs to 1,000 youths in Jammu, but 2,000 small shops will get closed. Where will they go? We will not accept it,” Gupta stressed.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association and different political parties — Congress, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), the Panthers Party, the Communist Party of India- (Marxist), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Apni Party have extended their support to the strike.
It will be the first-ever 'bandh' (protest) by the traders since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A on 5 August 2019.
Gupta also said the government is not willing to meet and discuss issues with trade bodies, forcing them to call for the Jammu bandh.
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