Other States

Post August 5, J&K banks harassing us, say Kashmir-based trader bodies

Photo: Twitter/@IThekcc

Photo: Twitter/@IThekcc  

At least 21 Kashmir-based traders bodies on Friday, in full-page advertisements published in local dailies, accused the banks of harassment and persecution of the families of the borrowers in the name of asset possession, first such allegations since J&K was reduced to a Union Territory.

“After 2019, the business community is completely devastated and exhausted. Our survival is under threat. It’s a humble submission to banks that they should stop calling us defaulters. Many are circumstantial and not wilful defaulters,” reads the joint statement.

Among others that issued the statement, included Kashmir’s top trading bodies such as the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Kashmir Economic Alliance, the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, the J&K Private School Coordination Committee, the Shopian Fruit Mandi Association, the Kashmir Gold Association etc.

“We and our families don’t deserve to be harassed, persecuted and troubled. Dear banks, be humble and compassionate while making recoveries,” the statement said.

Several sectors that drives the J&K economy — tourism, horticulture, IT-related units and handicrafts — witnessed a major slump after the Centre ended J&K’s special status on August 5 last year. Besides the unprecedented security measures, the non- availability of the Internet further dented economy.

“Since 2008, businesses in Kashmir suffered heavy losses. It was followed by the 2014 floods, 2016 unrest and the 2019 clampdown. The RBI has allowed the banks to go for restructuring and rehabilitation of stress accounts to save them from turning into non performing assets. This turned out to be half-hearted acknowledgement. After 2019, business community is completely devastated,” it said.

The KCCI already claimed that J&K suffered losses to the tune of ₹17,878 crore, with the agriculture sector topping the list at ₹2,827 crore followed by tourism at ₹2,615 crore after the Centre’s move.

A top trader told The Hindu that of late, the officials of the banks, unlike the past, are accompanied with security personnel and sealed properties on the spot. “It was not a trend in the past. It’s an attack on Kashmir business class,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

No bank has responded to these allegations. The J&K Bank, which is the main lender in J&K, also remained silent over the trader bodies’ allegations.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 11:03:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/post-aug5-jk-banks-harassing-us/article30823698.ece

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