Traders Accuse ST Officials ‘Harrasment’, Stage Protest

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Srinagar: Hundreds of traders from Maisuma, Gowkadal, Red Cross Road and Exchange Road Saturday staged a demonstration near Akhara Building here to protest against what they called harassment by officials of the Sales Tax Department.

The protesting traders claimed that sales tax officials were raiding their shops and stores and levying hefty fines on all the goods. “Sales Tax officials on the pretext of stock assessment, seize laptops and sometimes seize bill books, despite the fact all the documents related to stocks had been destroyed in devastating September 2014 floods,” according to Maisuma Traders Federation president Sajad Gul.

The traders said they opposed raids during business hours and levying extra taxes on all the goods in the shops. “They check all the goods in the shops and demand bills for all of them.

“It is irony that the visiting Sales Tax officials have been revealing that they orders from top to collect huge revenue in the t form of fine from the traders. This is injustice towards us. We are not criminals and can’t be treated like this. We have an affidavit lying with us that reads we (traders) have suffered huge losses and all the documents related to stocks have been destroyed. Post floods the government had assured us that they will not make a renewed assessment of the pre-flood stocks. Still we have no problem if they go for stock assessment but they should stop harassing traders,” the protesting traders who blocked traffic near Maisuma said.

General Secretary Maisuma Traders Association Haji Nisar Ahmed Shahdhar said that all the traders have been paying 13.5 per cent as sales tax quarterly and yet due to unknown reasons the Sales tax authorities have been harassing and humiliating them.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation has warned the government that if it continues to harass traders, the traders community will took to streets and will go for indefinite shutdown. KTMF Publicity secretary Hilal Ahmed Mandoo said that the traders bodies will stop its transactions with Jammu and Kashmir Bank and other organs if the government does not take action against the Sales tax officials.

When contacted, Commissioner Sales Tax Baseer Ahmed Khan said that he does not know anything about the matter. “Let these traders meet me, I will look into the matter,” he said. CNS

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