Jammu: Scores of Congress workers on Thursday protested here against the imposition of property tax in Jammu and Kashmir, with senior party leader Vikar Rasool Wani accusing the Union Territory administration of being “anti-poor”.
The workers led by Wani, who is the Congress’ J&K unit president, assembled outside the party’s headquarters at Shaheedi Chowk and tried to take out a march. However, they were stopped by police.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration recently notified the imposition of property tax in municipal areas from April 1. The tax rates will be five per cent of taxable annual value for residential properties and six per cent for commercial properties.
“The (BJP) government (at the Centre) is anti-poor which is evident from its policies over the past nine years. It divided J&K into two Union Territories (UTs) and is afraid of holding assembly elections, knowing fully that the distressed people will throw it out of J&K,” Wani told reporters.
In 2019, the Centre abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Wani alleged that the Lt Governor administration was bent upon to destroy the people economically.
“First, it introduced an anti-encroachment drive to raise down the houses of the poor and now imposed property tax,” he said, rejecting the Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s assertion that the rates of property tax are lowest in the country and the majority of the population had to pay below Rs 1,000 annually.
“The same remarks were made when toll posts (on highways) were introduced and today, people are paying three to four times of the toll fixed originally. It will happen with the property tax as well,” he claimed.
The Congress leader said his party will continue its protest against the “anti-people” policies of the J&K administration and the BJP.
He also attacked the BJP-led central government for increasing the prices of domestic gas cylinders and said the rates were nearly three times less when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre.
J&K Congress working president Raman Bhalla and chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma were also part of the protest.
Members of the Apni Party also staged a protest in Udhampur against the property tax and demanded immediate revocation of the notification.