‘We haven’t asked Kashmiri traders to leave, they are as Indian as anyone else’

Srinagar: Mussoorie Traders’ Association had set a deadline for Kashmiri traders to leave town till February 28, however according to a report in the Times of India, the association has said that the decision, which was taken last year, was taken in a hurry. 

“We have not yet asked any Kashmiri trader to leave. The decision was taken last year and now we are rethinking the issue. On second thoughts, I would say our decision then was taken in a hurry,” Rajat Aggarwal, President of the traders’ association told the newspaper.

Earlier, Aggarwal had said that there were no two ways about it, hinting at ‘communal disharmony’.

“The local traders in Mussoorie want the Kashmiri traders to leave,” he had told the Indian Express. 

According to the report, Aggarwal attributed the decision to 18 new Kashmiri traders renting stores in the town, selling shawls and embroidered women’s suits. He said it had happened over the past two years.

“For a small town like Mussoorie, 18 new Kashmiri traders is a huge number,” Aggarwal said, adding that “on Monday (February 26) we have called a meeting with owners who have rented their shops to the Kashmiri traders to discuss the issue”.

However, on Monday while speaking to the Times, Aggarwal said, “In my opinion, the Kashmiris are as much a part of India as anyone else and we can’t ask them to leave as per law. We want to give out a message of peace and don’t want any trader or our Kashmiri brothers to suffer.”

The issue had cropped up again after Altaf Ahmed, a Kashimiri trader in Mussoorie wrote to Ajay Bhatt, state BJP president on February 21, asking him to intervene in the matter as the traders’ association had asked them to leave the town by February.

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