Traders demand end to ‘harassment’, ask government to step in
SRINAGAR: Various trade bodies associated with mutton business on Monday alleged that they were being harassed and beaten by “some unregulated cattle tax collectors” in Punjab for the last two years.
The members of All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association, Chinar Sheep and Goat Welfare Association Delhi, and All Kashmir Butchers Association assembled inside Press Enclave here in Srinagar and raised slogans for justice, demanding state government to step in to end the harassment.
The protesters said that some “unregulated tax collectors” demand 20,000 to 30,000 rupees from each truck in Madhopur area in Punjab in the name of cattle fare.
“From 2015 our drivers and workers are being harassed in Madhopur by some unidentified tax body who work under the banner of cattle fare. They forcefully collect 20000 to 30000 rupees from us and if we object they start beating and harassing us,” Mehraj ud Din Ganie, General Secretary of All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association said.
He said that truckers have been paying Rs two to three lakh rupees on daily basis from last two years “but from couple of days cattle fare body has made our lives miserable”.
“We went to the concerned police station and asked them to verify whether the tax collecting body was genuine or it belongs to local bodies but they did not act. Police rather replied that they will help us negotiating a deal with them. It looks like police is supporting them.”
Secretary of Chinar Sheep and Goat Welfare Association Delhi claimed that traders spoke with a few members of tax collecting body at Madhopur who sent them back saying to it was beyond their jurisdiction.
“They said you meet our MLA as he is the one who looks after it. We in fact went to some government departments in Punjab to verify whether receipts provided by them really belong to Punjab government, however, they said the organization was fake,” he said. “From 2015 to this date we have paid around 58 crore rupees tax to them and we want this thing to be stopped.”
The protesters demanded that state government should intervene by sending a delegation to Punjab and ask Punjab government to come clear over the issue.
“We have spoken to our government in the past after which the harassment and money collection stopped for few days but from two years their activities have resumed. We have no issue in paying the tax if it’s genuine but the thing is that we want our government to ask Punjab government to come clear over the issue by answering our question for why we need to pay additional taxes,” Secretary, Chinar Sheep and Goat Welfare Association Delhi, said.
Haji Khazer Mohammad, president of All Kashmir Butchers Association told media that if the body was genuine J&K government should request Punjab government to rollback the tax or else the price of the mutton in Valley will increase. “From where shall we get that money? We then have to add the amount (cattle tax) to the livestock due to which price of mutton will increase from 400 rupees to over 500 rupees.” “The increase in rates will affect both people as well as traders because people here won’t be able afford the price hike.