Traders and Apni Party activists on Tuesday staged protests separately against the opening of Reliance retail stores here while a local industry body has given a strike call for September 22 on the issue, evoking widespread support from opposition parties, lawyers and various social groups.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) alleged that businessmen in Jammu are facing the "highest degree of discrimination" due to the "directionless policies" of the Union Territory government like ending of age-old biannual darbar move, new excise policy and restrictions on banquet halls, among other issues.
A group of traders under the banner of Warehouse Traders Federation staged a peaceful protest at Nehru Market in Jammu against the opening of a chain of Reliance smart stores.
Federation president Deepak Gupta, on the occasion, said all shopkeepers would observe a complete strike on Wednesday to convey a message to the government that "we are not happy with the policy decision taken in closed rooms without consulting stakeholders".
Activists of the Apni Party, which had already extended its support to the strike call, also staged a demonstration at Gandhi Nagar market against the proposed opening of 100 Reliance stores.
The protest was held by the Apni Trade Union and concluded peacefully, officials said.
Congress, National Conference and PDP have already extended their support to the bandh call.
J&K Congress chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said the party fully supports the bandh call on the burning issues which is bound to wipe out small and middle class traders.
Jammu wing of J&K High Court Bar Association president M K Bhardwaj also extended support to the strike and said, "the people of Jammu are united on all issues which affect the common man.
"We will not tolerate injustice and discrimination with Jammu region and continue peaceful agitation to safeguard the interests of the people," Bhardwaj told reporters here.
He hoped that Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and his administration would take note of the problems being faced by lawyers, traders, businessmen, farmers, unemployed youth besides the civic and infrastructural deficiencies in Jammu region and address the same to make life easier for the people.
The National Conference also extended its support to the strike and said the party has all along stood for safeguarding the interests of Jammu and Kashmir and will continue so with a sense of commitment.
"The administration will see reason in its anti-business and anti-poor policies and take corrective measures, rather than coming up with move after move that hurt the overall interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," the party said in a statement, urging the administration to roll-back the decisions which are against the legitimate interests of trade and commerce.