Srinagar: People's Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday demanded the revocation of property tax on the residents within the jurisdiction of Badamibagh Cantonment Board here after some inhabitants claimed to have received such notices.
Addressing a press conference, PDP chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said the decision to levy property tax in the areas under the jurisdiction of the Badamibagh Cantonment Board was arbitrary and must be rolled back immediately.
Badamibagh Cantonment Board, or BB Cantt, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Defence.
There are reports that the people living within the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board are being asked to pay property tax. Instead of helping the people who have been suffering from 2019, the government is pushing the people to the wall, Bukhari said.
He said the decision should be revoked especially since the people in the Valley were suffering economically.
This arbitrary decision of charging property tax from the local residents should be revoked immediately. People should not be made to suffer. People are in distress for the last two years as they have suffered economically. The government institutions or agencies rather than helping the people are giving them more trouble by such decisions, he said.
Bukhari said it seems the decision has been taken to weaken the people of Jammu and Kashmir economically as well as politically.
The Badamibagh Cantonment is a class II cantonment established in 1954, covering a total area of 1458.537 acres including a civil area of 313.50 acres, according to the board's website.
Referring to the rumours in the valley that the Centre was planning further reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP spokesperson asked the administration to come out with facts.
If they are only rumours, then the government should have come forward to dispel these rumours. Some high-ranking officials should come on record and tell the people that these are all rumours and assure the people that there is no uncertainty, he said.
The National Conference also expressed dismay over the alleged imposition and charging of property tax by the Cantonment board, saying the people are in dire straits and lack the capacity to pay the tax.
Expressing concern over the new wave of anxiety created among people by the property tax notices being served to them by the cantonment, NC youth leader Ahsan Pardesi castigated the cantonment authorities on pressuring the people to pay exorbitant property tax.
Prevailing condition of people is not conducive for levying taxes as the local economy and individual incomes have suffered major reverses since the 2014 deluge, the condition was further compounded by the subsequent tumultuous situation, and series of clampdown and COVID-19 induced lock down, he said.
Pardesi said the measures have panicked the middle and lower middle class families in the entire stretch of Srinagar falling within the jurisdiction of the cantonment.
What is adding salt to the wound is the unilateral evaluation of properties and assessment of the amounts to be paid, he said.
The NC leader said it is uncalled for to ask people to pay taxes amidst a sulking economy and high rates of unemployment.
The government had already decided not to levy property tax in civil areas earlier. Why are people living in cantonment areas being singled out and discriminated upon?
When in current times banks are restructuring loans how can anyone think of property taxes. Till board members were there, nothing of this was initiated. Just after the board got disbanded, the cantonment authorities thought of such an unwarranted act, he added.
Pardesi urged the defense ministry to take cognisance of the matter and put a halt on the exercise to ensure that local populace does not suffer on any account.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) provincial president, Kashmir, Mohammad Ashraf Mir also took a strong exception over the reports of levying of property tax by the board.
In a statement issued here, Mir said such arbitrary decisions will only tend to create more problems for the people who are facing the brunt of lockdowns due the prevailing pandemic across the country.
The people living within the jurisdiction of Badamibagh Cantonment area have had their ancestors living there for ages and now all of a sudden, they are asked to pay taxes for their own properties. It is totally absurd and excruciating for the residents living there, he said.
Mir said the developmental works in these areas have been always carried out by the state government and no minuscule role has been played by the Cantonment authorities.
He urged the central government to intervene in the matter and allow the general public in these areas to live in amity as they have been economically devastated by the viciousness of the pandemic and are unable to pay such heavy taxes.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.