Jammu observes partial shutdown against property tax

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A day-long strike called by a traders’ body against the imposition of property tax evoked a mixed response on Saturday with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha saying people are wise and understand the situation very well.

Sinha, however, said his doors are open for dialogue on the issue and the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been given priority while framing the rules.

The Union Territory administration recently notified the imposition of property tax in municipal areas from April 1. The tax rates will be 5 per cent of the annual taxable value for residential properties and 6 per cent for commercial properties.

While some markets in the city remained closed on Saturday, overall there was a mixed response to the bandh call given by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) and the Yuva Rajput Sabha.

Several shopkeepers, who had kept their establishments closed in the morning, opened them later in the day.

Work in the high court and other subordinate courts was also affected as lawyers associated with the Jammu chapter of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association participated in the JCCI-sponsored strike.

Almost all opposition parties, including the National Conference, the Congress, the Democratic Azad Party, and the National Panthers Party, also supported the bandh.

The All J-K Transport Welfare Association, however, was not a part of the strike, claiming that they were not taken into confidence by the traders’ body.

Public transport remain unaffected and was seen plying on the roads since early morning.

The Yuva Rajput Sabha also took out a peaceful march from Bohri to Talab Tiloo on the outskirts of the city and the marchers later dispersed after being stopped by police.

“The people of J-K are wise and intelligent. They understand the situation very well,” Lt Governor told reporters here on the sidelines of a function in response to a question about the strike by traders against the imposition of property tax.

Asked about the all-parties meeting likely to be chaired by NC president Farooq Abdullah at his residence later in the day with property tax being one of the issues on the agenda, Sinha said he does not speak on political issues.

“I believe, we have not left any scope for them on such issues. The interests of the people of J&K have been given top priority while framing the property tax policy. The tax amount fixed is one-tenth of the tax being paid by the people in Shimla, Ambala, and Dehradun,” he said.

He said there will be no tax on property in rural areas and 40 per cent population in urban areas, where 40 per cent of people have to pay around Rs 1000 annually.

Similarly, Sinha said there are 1.01 lakh shops, out of which 46 per cent of shops fall below 100 square feet and have to pay around Rs 700 annually and 36,000 shopkeepers only Rs 2000 annually on account of property tax.

“We have issued toll-free numbers and sought suggestions from the public if they feel there is a scope for improvement. If there is a need for any relief, we will definitely give it to the public,” he said, adding his doors are open for dialogue on the issue.

On the protests by job aspirants over hiring of a previously blacklisted company for conducting computer-based written tests, he said “the issue is before the court and the Constitution does not permit me to speak on it.” (PTI)

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