J&K: Private transporters postpone proposed strike after meeting govt officials

Jammu, Jun 3 (PTI) Private transporters in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday night postponed their proposed strike after holding a meeting with some government officials here.

Earlier during the day, the private transporters had announced the suspension of tanker and truck services in the union territory, saying their doors are open if the J-K administration is interested in addressing their genuine demands through negotiations.

“We have decided to postpone the proposed strike after an hour-long meeting with Transport commissioner and Deputy Commissioner Jammu. We are holding another meeting tomorrow with Commissioner Secretary Transport and got an assurance that all our genuine demands would be addressed,” Chairman of All J&K Transport Welfare Association (AJKTWA) T S Wazir told PTI.

The agitating transporters, who among other things are seeking an economic package for the industry to overcome the coronavirus-driven crisis, also expressed displeasure over the government move to increase the road or token tax on the old vehicles registered before August 3, 2019 with the concerned transport authorities.

'Jammu and Kashmir has received a new gift in the shape of double token tax at a time of COVID crisis after the recent increase in rate of tax on sale of petrol and diesel, while no attention is paid on our genuine demands,” Wazir had said.

Wazir, who led a strong protest demonstration for the second straight day here, had accused the administration of forcing them on the roads and said “we have kept our doors open for negotiations”.

Besides the relief package for the drivers, cleaners and other allied workers of the transport industry badly affected by the lockdown, the association is demanding among other things a revision in passenger fare, freight charges to the extent of at least 50 per cent, waiving interest of the loans taken by transporters for vehicles and waiving insurance and other fees during the lockdown period besides withdrawing of toll plazas in J&K.

The Jammu and Kashmir government increased the rate of tax on sale of petrol and diesel in the Union Territory by Rs 2 per litre and Rs 1 per litre, respectively. The new rates came into effect from June 1.

'When the Centre bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs, an assurance was given that all the benefits under UT status will be given but unfortunately nothing of the sort had happened so far. The other UT does not pay passenger tax and there were also no toll plaza's. We are being strangled here,' Wazir had said.

The association went on a chain hunger strike near Tawi bridge here on Tuesday but were physically lifted by police citing violation of lockdown guidelines. PTI TAS AB AD