Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow
SRINAGAR—Huge losses notwithstanding, Kashmir apple growers on Wednesday shut down all fruit mandies to express solidarity with the protesting farmers of the country.
Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Association, an umbrella group of all fruit associations, had called for the closure of all fruit mandis on December 8 in support of the framers protesting against the new farm laws.
More than 12 mandies including Fruit Marketing Complex, Parimpora Srinagar, Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, Jablipora, Pachahar, Chari-e-Sharief, and Ganderbal remained closed. No loading, unloading, or trading took place in the fruit mandies on Wednesday.
“No business transactions were carried out on Wednesday. All fruit growers and traders stayed home in solidarity with the farmers,” said chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Association Bashir Ahmad Basheer.
Post abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir fruit growers suffered huge losses due to communication blockade and restrictions. Thousands of tonnes of fruit rot in the orchards as these could not be transported to mandies.
Despite that, Kashmiri fruit growers extended full support to the kisan agitation and demanded the rollback of new farm laws. “Farm bills are completely against the sentiments of the valley-based fruit/vegetable growers. We all should come in support of the farmers. These laws should be rolled back,” said Basheer.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. Horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under apple cultivation. IN 2018-19 the fruit production including dry fruits has touched 24.15 lakh tonnes compared to 23.30 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.
Jammu and Kashmir Kisan Tehreek (JKKT) had called for a peaceful protest demonstration at Press Colony, Srinagar, to support the farmers. “We demand the withdrawal of retrograde Agri-laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill,” said Abdul Hameed, spokesman of JKKT.
However, in Jammu, there was not much impact of the Bharat Bandh. Shops and business establishments were open. However, public traffic was off the roads.
On Sunday, apple growers from Himachal Pradesh had extended support to the Bandh call. Himachal apple growers appealed to the farmers, workers, transporters, students, and lawyers to support the farmer’s cause.
Bharat Bandh call by the farmers is gaining steam across India with farmers and opposition coming in full support against the bills.
So far, five rounds of talks have been held between the protesting farmers and the government. However, the meetings have not yielded results so far.
Protesting farmers have called Bharat Bandh despite repeated assurances by the Centre to resolve issues.