Ensure smooth movement of apples or face blockade: Mufti to J&K admn

Amid a widespread discontent among the apple growers in the Valley over controlled movement of fruit-laden trucks out of the Valley, former J-K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that “attempts are being made to destroy Kashmir’s economy”. She also threatened the administration of a blockade on the national highway if smooth movement of fruit-laden trucks was not ensured.

On Monday, after protests from the fruit growers, the J-K government allowed all the stranded fruit-laden vehicles to move towards Jammu. “For now, they have let all the trucks pass,” Fayaz Ahmad Malik, President of Sopore Fruit Mandi, told The Indian Express.

In a statement, traffic police said 45,923 trucks (including 17,631 apple trucks) have moved from Srinagar to Jammu via tunnel since September 1 as per the details provided by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

“An attempt is being made to destroy our economy. Livelihoods of lakhs of people are attached to the apple trade…it is economic terrorism,” she said while addressing a gathering of fruit-growers at Algar fruit mandi in Shopian on Tuesday. She asked if a truck from Jammu reaches the Valley in a day, why it takes four days for a truck from the Valley to reach Jammu. “When this (curbs) happens despite the direction from the (Lt) Governor sahib, it looks part of a bigger conspiracy. We will not let this conspiracy succeed,” she said.

“Lakhs of people depend on this (fruit trade), they have taken loans, they have taken money from Delhi’s mandis. Who will give them that money? Will you? So, I warn the government if you don’t open the road for trucks, then I along with others will block the national highway,” Mehbooba said in Shopian.

“I want to warn the government that if you didn’t open the highway, I, together with the people, will block the national highway. Our fruit is rotting…we will not let it happen. Don’t test the patience of the people of Kashmir,” she said.

The JK administration has, however, dismissed the allegations, saying the trucks were halted due to natural causes.

In a statement issued on Monday, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, P K Pole, said the trucks were stopped due to natural causes, which were beyond anyone’s control. “The claim made by certain fruit growers association on the halting of fruit trucks is half-truth and natural reasons are hindering traffic. We have difficulties in the movement of traffic on the highway due to rains and resultant shooting stones which is beyond human control,” Pole had said.


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