National Conference today staged protests and courted arrests over the establishment and operationalisation of Toll Plaza at Lakhanpur, the gateway to the city of temples, describing it as anti-people, arbitrary and discriminatory.
Carrying party flags and placards in support of their demand for rollback of the decision to burden the people with yet another Toll Plaza, the National Conference workers, joined by Youth National Conference volunteers assembled on the highway, maintaining mandatory protocols like social distancing and wearing masks, and raised slogans against BJP, saying the party has been presiding over anti-Jammu machinations for the past over six years.
“And, the height of all these measures is that the BJP is trumpeting from roof-tops the slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, the party leaders told the media-persons covering the protests, adding that there might be Vikas of some but the people at large have been feeling a sense of deprivation. They blamed the BJP for betraying Jammu, adding that one after another toll plazas are being set up notwithstanding this part of the country being destination for millions of pilgrims, who have been thronging to pay obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine over the years. The highway remains agog with pilgrim activities and the influx of the Valley and Ladakh bound tourists.
“These toll plazas are serving as obstacles to economy of the entire region, which is largely dependent on pilgrim tourism”, they said, adding that levying toll tax would be a big burden on pilgrims who may have to pay more for coming over here, raise the prices of essentials due to tax on transportation and crush the middle class commuters hugely.
The leaders expressed surprise over mute silence of the administration that has failed in prevailing upon the National Highway Authority of India against such moves, more so in the backdrop of the highway construction yet to be completed fully. Instead of completing the highway project and ensuring smooth plying of traffic, the NHAI is burdening the people by levying taxes, they rued.
The National Conference and YNC workers courted arrests to press their demand for winding up of the Toll Plaza together with the one at Saroore and desist from such moves in future.
By not acceding to the overwhelming public demand, the administration as also the NHAI are exposed for its insensitivities and anti-people measures, the protesting workers said, cautioning that inaction by the administration may force the people to come on to the streets for their legitimate rights.
Prominent among those who participated in the protests included Sham Narian Mehta, K.K Bakshi, Ravinder Salathia, Neelam Sharma, Kouser Parveen Bhati, Devender Mehta, Sardar Harjeet Singh, Shakeel Tony, Pardeep Kesser, Suresh Kumar YNC, Rakesh Kumar YNC, Mohd Shaffi and others.