Srinagar, Sep 27: Hundreds of traders and businessmen are staring at huge losses as internet blackout has severely hampered the process of filing Goods and Service Tax (GST) and Income Tax returns online in the Kashmir valley.
“We have lost contact with our chartered accountants. Snapping of internet services has made the entire process difficult because all the taxes including GST, Income Tax and Sales Tax are to be filed online,” said Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Jammu and Kashmir government suspended internet services hours before parliament abrogated Article 370 on August 5.
Data reveals that GST returns in Jammu have fallen to Rs 25 crores in September from Rs 164 crores in July this year.
The situation in Kashmir is worse as traders claim that none of them have filed the GST or any other tax returns due to the communication blockade.
Earlier this month, a delegation of traders met union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and urged her to extend the date for filing of taxes.
The traders have sought extension of filing of GSTR-3B and GST-R. These taxes are to be filed every month.
Later the government extended the last date of filing annual GST return to November from August 31. “It becomes burden for us. We want taxes to be filed on time. Lack of internet facility is hampering the process,” said Rauf Ahmad, a businessman from Srinagar.
Chartered accountants too expressed helplessness in conducting tax audits in absence of the internet services. “We can’t provide services to our clients when internet or phone calls are barred. We need to contact our clients 10 or 20 times a day during the process of auditing. But it is not possible because neither mobiles nor internet service is available,” said Sameer Ahmad, a Chartered Accountant.
Phones to buzz again tomorrow
Govt announces restoration of postpaid services; internet shutdown to continue
Srinagar, Oct 12: Two days after lifting security advisory for tourists, Jammu and Kashmir government Saturday announced to restore postpaid mobile telephony in all the 10 districts of the valley from Monday noon.
However, internet services will continue to remain suspended though government has decided to restore the service at tourist places to facilitate the visitors.
“After reviewing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a decision was taken to restore mobile phone facilities in all the remaining areas of the state. More specifically, all post-paid mobile phones, irrespective of the telecom service provider, will stand restored and be functional from 12 noon on October 14. This will cover all 10 districts of Kashmir province,” Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary and J&K government spokesperson, told reporters here on Saturday.
Jammu and Kashmir government had imposed a communication blockade on August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.
“A number of restrictions were imposed on August 5 to prevent externally aided militants from disturbing peace and inflicting causalities on innocent citizens. It is a well-established fact that there have been sustained attempts from across the border, both in the past and more in the last two months to promote militancy in J&K in order to create a sense of fear among the people and keep the place in a disturbed condition,” said Kansal.
There are more than 70 lakh mobile phone subscribers in the valley of which 40 lakh alone are postpaid users. Kashmir is the only place in the country where postpaid phone subscribers outnumber prepaid subscribers.
The decision to restore postpaid mobile phone service in Kashmir comes two days after the government lifted August 2 travel advisory for tourists.
“With this step, tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity. Students can be in touch with parents while attending schools, businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients and contractors can be in touch with staff,” he said.
Kansal said travel advisory for tourists has been lifted and visitors are welcome to visit the state. “They will be facilitated for their visit. Internet facilities are being opened at tourist places to assist tourists wanting to access internet,” he said.
Government also urged businessmen, industrialists, traders, transporters, shopkeepers, hoteliers and contractors “not to be frightened by militant threats and separatists and go about their normal activities”.
“Credible inputs continue to be received of the likelihood of large scale damage of life and property but also create an atmosphere of fear and among the people. Banned organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen continue to make attempts to instill fear of J&K,” he said.
Kansal said there was no “unnecessary” loss of life because of measures of security forces and the people. “This is remarkable, given the history of events in 2008, 2010 and 2016. Some killings and injuries have been inflicted by militants including on a baby to prevent traders, businessmen and transporters from doing their normal business,” he said.
Principal Secretary noted since August 16, there has been a gradual removal of the restrictions that were imposed and by the first week of September most of the restrictions were removed.
“Barring 8-10 police stations, movement restrictions have been completely removed. Over 99% of the area of Jammu and Kashmir has no restrictions on movement. Landlines have been fully restored and are functioning for over six weeks. Besides, mobile phone facilities were restored in Jammu and Ladakh, and subsequently in Kupwara district”, he said.
Kansal emphasized that the media was facilitated through the Media Facilitation Centre equipped with all facilities. “Schools were gradually reopened since August and universities, colleges and secondary schools were reopened in the last 10 days. Examination schedules have been announced. Air services are operating normally and air booking has been facilitated in Srinagar with new counters in the city,” he said.
Principal Secretary said 25 Internet kiosks are operating in each district in the district development commissioner offices to help students, contractors, and government departments to carry out their functions. Students have been using this facility to apply for exams, download admission cards, he said.
To help apple growers, he stated that an ambitious Market Intervention Scheme has been launched by the Central Government through NAFED and the Horticulture department. “Prices for apples have been revised last week”, he said.
‘Detentions being reviewed’
Srinagar, Oct 12: Breaking silence, Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday said some people were detained as a preventive measures post August 5.
“There has been a lot of development post August 5 and that was required a certain kind of action including detentions. Decisions were taken at the local level by law enforcing agencies after taking all facts into consideration. All these detentions are being reviewed. Security situation is continuously being accessed. People continue to be released and this process will go on,” said Rohit Kansal, J&K government spokesperson.
Grenade blast in Srinagar market, 9 injured
Srinagar, Oct 12: At least nine people were injured in a grenade attack by suspected militants in a busy market area in summer capital Srinagar on Saturday, the 69th day of the ongoing situation in Kashmir.
Militants hurled a grenade in Hari Singh High Street market area, a police official said.
The grenade exploded on the roadside in the market, injuring nine people, he said, adding that the wounded were rushed to SMHS hospital here.
According to the official, the explosion also damaged windows of a vehicle parked nearby.
He said the shops in the market were shut but a few vendors had set up stalls in the area.
The grenade exploded with a bang when a large number of people were busy in buying items from road side vendors.
The area was immediately put under cordon and a search operation was underway at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar following the grenade attack, the official added.
Police rushed to spot after the incident and shifted the injured to hospital. The injured have been identified as Farooq Ahmed Kadla of Lal Bazar, Basit Sheikh from Batamaloo, Muhammad Younis of Bemina, Shahid Ahmed of Padshahi Bagh, Sabah Malik of Zoonimar, Suhail Mir from Pampore, Bilal Ahmed of Uri, Saifullah of Zaldagar and Abdul Rahim Wani of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
The injured are in a stable condition, the police said in the tweet.
Meanwhile, the situation across Kashmir remained unchanged on the 69th day as well. Business, educational activities remained suspended while public transport continued to remain off the roads.
A lot of private vehicles were seen plying on the roads while scores of roadside vendors too were seen doing business at key city areas.
The ongoing turmoil was triggered on August 5 when the government of India abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories – J&K, and Ladakh (With inputs from KNT)
Govt kicks off process to vacate forces from schools, colleges
Srinagar, Oct 12: Jammu and Kashmir government has kicked off the process to vacate the security forces from educational institutes in the valley.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been stationed in different schools and colleges of the valley since August 5 when the government of India revoked Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference by government spokesman, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, SP Pani said the process of evacuating forces from educational institutes has begun.
Secretary Higher Education Department, Talat Parvez Rohella said: “The forces will be removed from all the educational institutes by the time classwork begins.”
Presently, paramilitary troops are deployed in SP Higher Secondary School, National Institute of Technology (NIT) and Government Polytechnic College, Gogjibagh. Besides, forces are deployed in educational institutions at Khan Sahab, Handwara and other areas.
“Schools have been gradually reopened since August. Also universities, colleges and higher secondary schools were reopened in the last ten days,” said Rohit Kansal, J&K government spokesman.
Earlier on August 19, authorities had ordered reopening of primary schools followed by middle schools from August 21. Later on October 3, the directives regarding the opening of high and higher secondary schools were announced, yet the students continued to stay away from educational institutes.