JK Imposing ‘Jizya Tax’ on Vaishno Devi Pilgrims: Cong

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NEW DELHI:  Flaying the decision of PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir to levy service tax on pilgrims availing of chopper service to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Congress today questioned whether it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s version of ‘Jizya tax’.

Jizya tax was imposed on Hindus during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb.

“Is this Mr Modi’s definition of Jizya tax on pilgrims to Vaishno Devi? Is it BJP-PDP’s version of Jizya tax to pilgrims of Vaishno Devi?” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in New Delhi while slamming the state government’s decision.

The PDP-BJP government has levied 12.5 per cent service tax on Vaishno Devi pilgrims traveling from Katra to the revered cave shrine nestled in Trikuta Hills by chopper. Due to this, pilgrims will have to shell out Rs. 2,340 in place of Rs. 2,078 for the two-way journey, according reports.

Dr Singhvi accused the government of “trying to control” the pilgrimage and said,”you have hurt the faith of people.”

He also accused Mr Modi of doing the “politics, accounting  jugglery, deceit and brazenly befooling” people with a “fraud” as he slammed him for announcing a package of Rs.  44,000 crore for rehabilitation of those affected by last year’s flood.

“On one hand, people of Jammu and Kashmir have to suffer due to the callous indifference of Modi government towards the relief and rehabilitation. On the other hand, the PDP-BJP government, in a bizarre move, has decided to impose 12.5 per cent service tax on pilgrims making the air-trip to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine costly by issuing a notification to this  effect on September 2.

“Drunk with power, PDP-BJP government does not realise that ordinary families book helicopter tickets for their aged parents, physically challenged and children largely as also those having medical problems, who cannot undertake the 26  kilometre trek but are keen to do ‘darshan’,” DrSinghvi said.

The Congress spokesperson alleged that “obnoxious reason” given behind the decision to levy service tax was the desire of PDP-BJP government to reduce the number of pilgrims visiting the cave shrine.

“They do not realise that the number of pilgrims visiting  Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine has already come down from 93 lakh in 2013 to 78 lakh in 2014 on account of such bizarre and  obnoxious policy of PDP-BJP government.

“Indian National Congress condemns this unfair levy of service tax and demands that it should be immediately withdrawn,” Dr Singhvi said. Agencies

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