In BJP bastion, chemists strike against violation of Article 370

Jammu, Feb 3:
Thousands of chemist shops remained closed in Jammu on Friday in view of the 72-hour strike call given by J&K Chemists and Druggist Association (JKCDA) against the government decision to allow a non-state subject to open pharmacy shops in violation of Article 370, which guarantees special status to the state.

Interestingly, Jammu is the bastion of BJP which has been seeking abrogation of Article 370. The chemists are citing the constitutional provision for their strike, alleging that the health department has issued tender to a Delhi-based person to open 57 chemist shops at different government hospitals in the Jammu region.

According to the tender floated by health and medical education department for the fair price medical shops, only permanent residents of J&K were eligible to participate in the auction.

Speaking to Rising Kashmir, president of the Jammu Chemist Association, Naveen Bali said the tender also carried a condition of having Rs 10 crore annual turnover for three years. “In J&K no chemist has annual turnover of Rs 10 crores. This condition was kept to facilitate entry of Delhi based ‘Sanyog Pharmaceuticals’ who is already black-listed in PGI Chandigarh for supplying sub-standard drugs,” Bali said.

“On one hand, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti terms people who oppose Article 370 as anti-nationals but on the other hand her government gives permission to a non-state subject,” he added.
Bali said the government is facilitating the Delhi firm to open medical shops in GMC Jammu Hospital, SMGS Hospital, Super Specialty Hospital and other district hospitals. “The government has violated Article 370 to benefit a non-state subject. We will not allow the government to do so.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Jammu, has also extended support to the chemists’ association. “Bar Association of Jammu is also likely to offer us support tomorrow,” he added.
The chemist association has asked the government to withdraw its orders and give tenders to a State Subject.
“Tomorrow 72 hours of the strike will be completed and further course of action would be decided in a joint meeting with other associations,” Bali said.

In a joint press conference, Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Jammu, Rakesh Gupta and Chemist Association president, Naveen Bali said: “We feel this was purely done in lieu of exchange for favours and we see it as an attempt of larger plan by few government officers and politicians to eliminate the entrepreneurs who have not sorted any aid from the government.”

“It would not be out of place to mention that so called low price medical shops are selling at higher rates than available in the market thus cheating the poor and suffering humanity,” they added.
Meanwhile, patients and their attendants were seen wandering here and there for buying medicines. It may be mentioned here that the chemist association met Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr Pawan Kotwal and submitted a memorandum to him.