Srinagar: The unprecedented steep hike in petrol price on Thursday seems to have hit people in Kashmir hard, the angry protestors saying it would cripple markets, services and other sectors in the state.

Even Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed his resentment over the petrol price increase.

"Petrol Pump Attendant: Saab, Kitne ka daaloon? Customer: 2-4 Rupaye ka car ke upar spray kar de bhai. Aag lagani hai," Omar posted on his micro blogging Twitter site.

The worst hit in Srinagar was the auto-rickshaw drivers.

"Time has come for us to finally burn our auto-rickshaws and start begging. A Rs.7.50 hike was never imagined. I owe the bank about a lakh of rupees besides my own investment in the vehicle. How would I now repay the loan and sustain my family?" asked Manzoor Ahmad, 29, an auto-rickshaw driver here.

Muneer Ahmad, 34, a local shopkeeper, said: "Increase of Rs.7.50 per litre is unbelievable. I used to reach my shop early morning by hiring an auto-rickshaw. That luxury is now ruled out."
Office-goers are not any less angry over the unprecedented petrol price increase.

"I will have to sell my motorcycle now. I simply cannot afford driving it to office daily after the hike. What prompted the hike is beyond my imagination," said Sajad Ahmad, 35, a government clerk here.

The central government's argument that the hike decision had been taken independently by the oil companies has no takers in the valley.

"What do you think we are? How can the oil companies take such an earth-shaking decision on their own? It is to support the rupee against the dollar and the decision has been taken without caring for the common man," said Javaid Shah, a local film maker here.

"The policy planners of the country are fast asleep. They are trying to fight the dollar appreciation in comparison to rupee, but countering the economic threat without caring for the common man could be political suicide for the rulers," said Showkat Sahil, 27, a local columnist.

Most locals are now living under the horror of an impending diesel and LPG hike.
"The worst is yet to come. The likely hike in diesel and LPG prices will spell complete disaster for us," said Shabir Ahmad, 29, a newspaper office boy.



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