Smart Meters & Toll Plaza Row: Shutdown, protests hit normal life in Jammu region

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Normal life was affected as protests were held on Saturday on Jammu-Pathankot National Highway and parts of Jammu region observed shutdown against the installation of Smart Meters and removal of Toll Post at Sarore in Samba district.

The day-long shutdown call was announced by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI) Jammu and was supported by various political, religious and social organisations barring the Bhartiya Janata Party.

The protestors also demanded immediate ‘unconditional’ release of detained activists of Yuva Rajput Sabha spearheading the agitation demanding removal of Toll Plaza in view of poor road condition and damaged Tarnah Nullah bridge in Dayalachak on Jammu-Pathankot national highway.

Supporting the Jammu Bandh, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference termed it as completely successful and said that anguished by the anti-people policies adopted by Union Government’s proxy governmentt in J&K the people are anxiously waiting for the elections to teach the Saffron party a lesson.

National Conference Provincial President Rattan Lal Gupta stated that the incumbent BJP Governmentt at the Centre and the J&K UT Administration have crossed all limits in going ahead with atrocious anti-people policies.

He said that people are fed up with this unacceptable approach and attitude of the Administration and added that people of J&K will no longer tolerate such policies and approaches.

Various markets in Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Rajouri and Samba wore a deserted look except the shops of dairy products and medicines which were open.

The transporters are also likely to announce ‘chakak jam’ on August 31 in support of the demands and release of YRS leaders.

A group of YRS members were also detained for blocking the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway near Udhampur town.

On Friday, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar along with Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Jammu Zone Mukesh Singh addressing a press conference clarified the reasons for occasional high bills stating that any discrepancies in bills were due to past pending amounts and assured that the new system’s bill cycle has been rectified.

He also assured people about the efficiency of smart meters, while listing the steps taken by the administration to dispel the doubts of consumers regarding the accuracy of power consumption readings.

Meanwhile Singh said the YRS activists were detained for “breach of peace” and will be released only if any “prominent person” guarantees on their behalf that they would not repeat such an offence.

President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jammu, Arun Gupta in a statement expressed thanks to all the organizations including J&K High Court Bar Association Jammu and the business community from all over Jammu Province for their wholehearted and overwhelming support to Jammu Bandh by keeping their business establishments closed on the call of CCI, thus supporting the cause of Jammu.

Gupta said that the traders body believes in open dialogue with all the stakeholders but in view of the adamant approach of UT Administration J&K, after discussions with different Associations and in consultation with J&K High Court Bar Association, Jammu, a one-day Jammu Bandh was organized to press the government to understand the gravity of the situation and wake up from the deep slumber and take proactive approach to address the pressing genuine issues of halting installation of smart meters and prepaid meters and suspension of Toll Plaza at Sarore as these issues are of paramount importance.

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