The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a shutdown on Wednesday to protest against the Centre’s move to open 100 Reliance-owned stores in the district, reported the Hindustan Times.

The chamber’s president, Arun Gupta, alleged on Saturday that the move was “discrimination of the highest degree with traders of Jammu by the government”.

This is the first time the traders body has called for a shutdown since the Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, according to Outlook.

Gupta said that if such big businesses open in the Union Territory, many small shops would have to be shut down.

“Despite adding opportunities for business, the directionless government has snatched what was in hand of traders which is unacceptable,” he added. “The directionless policies of the government are hitting hard the business fraternity.”

The outfit’s chief also said that the chamber has raised problems faced by the traders of Jammu with officials but the administration has remained unmoved, reported PTI.

“We believe that trade in the Jammu region is being disturbed deliberately as policy decisions are taken in closed rooms without consulting or taking into confidence the stakeholders,” Gupta told reporters.

Gupta said that 228 wine traders have been rendered jobless after the government introduced e-auction of liquor shops in the Union Territory. He said that liquor bars have been closed as the excise department has asked for renewed licenses and no objection certificates issued by over 20 government departments.

On the government scrapping the “Darbar move”, Gupta claimed that it would adversely affect the traditional bond between the residents as well as the business communities of Jammu and Kashmir divisions. In June, the Centre had ended the 149-year-old binannual tradition of shifting Jammu and Kashmir’s capital. Srinagar served as the summer capital, while Jammu was the winter capital.

Gupta also pointed out that the Farooq Abdullah-led government had abolished the “Darbar move” in 1988-’89 after which Jammu had remained closed for 23 days.

“That time Jammu chamber, the bar association Jammu and BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] opposed it,” he said. “BJP supported us that time and Farooq Abdullah was forced to change his mind. But today the BJP doesn’t see anything.”

He added: “The government says it saved Rs 200 crore by ending Darbar move. But they didn’t take into consideration thousands of crores of transaction taking place between Kashmiris and Jammu during the Darbar move.”

Gupta also said that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and other officials hold meetings with 200 to 300 people in attendance, political functions also have hundreds of people but the banquet halls have a limit of only 25.

“We request the government to fix the capping criteria of banquet halls as per their size and capacity and allow them to function with 50% capacity,” he said.