The state government on Wednesday launched a media campaign against the protesting government employees. In full-page advertisements carried in local dailies, the government warned that the people would have to pay more for items such as petrol, diesel and electronic goods if it accepted the employees demands.
In full-page advertisements in major dailies in Kashmir, the government put forth statistics on the state economy. The government revenues, it said, were Rs 3,600 crore when it paid the employees Rs 11,525 crore. The government claimed in the advertisement that it needs Rs 4,200 crore to meet the demands of the employees.
The advertisement threatened that the common man has to pay Rs 30 extra diesel, Rs 70 extra for petrol and double prices for television sets, refrigerators and other electronic gadgets.
The government also claimed that if it raised the retirement age from 58 to 60, there will be no jobs available for the next two years.
The employees have trashed the advertisement and are readying their reply. “We are coming up with our own advertisement tomorrow,” said Farooq Trali, a leader of the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC).
“When IAS officers were given arrears and manifold increase in salaries, when legislators’ salaries were hiked and provided with laptops why the state coffers were not empty. How is it that when employees asks Rs 200 hike, the government goes bankrupt?” asked Trali.
The government advertisement hit the intended target as people began distancing themselves from the agitating government servants. “If the arrears will make the state poorer by Rs 4,200 crore and I have to pay exorbitant prices for daily items, I am not with the strike,” said Riyaz Wani, a shopkeeper in Lal Chowk.