Srinagar, Oct 26: The J&K government Saturday claimed it has put in place “adequate security arrangements” for the non-local truckers who fear for their lives after the recent attacks in south Kashmir left three of them dead.
The non-local truckers are the lifeline of Kashmir’s apple industry transporting at least 70% of the total exports of the crop to other states.
For the last two weeks, the non-local drivers were targeted four times by the unknown gunmen in south Kashmir which has created a fear psychosis among the rest.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, said that adequate arrangements have been made for the security of non-local truckers in the valley.
“Whatever measures are to be required, are being taken by the government,” he said.
Asked about the media reports that Jaipur Transport Operators Association (JTOA) has issued an advisory asking truck companies not to send their vehicles and drivers to Kashmir till the central government ensures security, The Divisional Commissioner said, “I don’t know about this advisory neither do I want to comment (on it).”
Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order and Security), Munir Ahmad Khan too assured security to the truckers, while refusing to comment on the JTOA advisory.
A national media report on Saturday quoted Gopal Singh Rathore, state president of JTOA, saying: “The advisory has been issued due to the recent killings of drivers and helpers in Kashmir. We have asked truck owners not to send their drivers to the valley till the Centre gives them adequate security. The advisory also states that the transport companies should not take bookings for taking or bringing goods from Kashmir.”
So far five non-local persons, including a migrant labourer, an apple trader and three drivers, have been killed by unknown gunmen in south Kashmir since October 7.
Bashir Ahmad Basheer, Chairman, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, said that non-local truckers boycotting Kashmir would further aggravate the problems faced by fruit growers.
“Almost 70 percent truckers who export apple from Kashmir are non-locals. It will increase the crisis if they stop coming here,” Basheer said.
The government said that over 6 lakh metric tonnes of apples have been exported from Kashmir so far.
The government last month launched the market intervention scheme to ease the difficulties faced by apple growers amid clampdown in Kashmir. It was launched in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). Under this over 2000 metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far.