Srinagar: Since the roll-out of Goods and Services Tax (GST), most of the downtown parts of the city are reeling under strict curfew-like restrictions.
Shops, institutions and other establishments are presenting a deserted look in the many parts of Srinagar.
Locals allege that after Police vans announced a curfew in the area, they directed the people of Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar, and its adjoining areas to stay indoors.
A tight curfew is in place in these areas where police and paramilitary forces are continually patrolling the streets since morning, and keeping a tight vigil on all activities here.
The police however says that there is no official curfew. “You can visit the place with us if you like, you will see that there are no restrictions”, Imtiyaz Ismail, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, told FreePressKashmir.
Locals contradict the SSP’s statement. “Our life has turned miserable these days. Our children don’t attend schools, and we are strictly forced to stay indoors. This commencement of GST has made our life dull,” said Hilal Ahmad Bhat, a resident of downtown Srinagar.
Another official said that restrictions under Section 144 CrPc are in place in areas falling under five police stations in the old city “as a precautionary measure” for smooth roll-out of GST.
“Why is the government forcing us to stay indoors every day? We want to roam freely. This administration has made our life hell. While other parts are enjoying summer time, we are under a lock-down,” said Fatima Nabi, a resident of Habba Kadal, pointing to a deserted street outside.
An official wishing to remain anonymous said that the downtown area has been “put under restrictions in order to prevent protests against the implementation of GST in the state”.
The city of Srinagar saw heavy traffic jams due to diversions by the police who did not let cars move freely through the old city.
Today, the Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC) has called for a general strike against the implementation of GST.
Meanwhile, Independent MLA Langate, and Awami Ittihad Party chief Engineer Rasheed on Wednesday staged a protest against the proposed implementation of GST here outside the legislative assembly.
Rasheed said that the tax law would end the fiscal autonomy of the state. He was joined by scores of his supporters who were shouting slogans against the GST.