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Traders, industrialists at loggerheads over toll tax in JK

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Jammu, Feb 04: Lobby groups of traders and industrialists in Jammu and Kashmir have locked horns over the demand for removal of toll tax at Lakhanpur which generates a revenue of over Rs 1,000 crore annually.
While the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) has threatened to start an agitation if the governor administration failed to implement ‘one nation one tax’ by abolishing the toll plaza, Federation of Industries Jammu (FOIJ) and Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) said such a decision would be a death knell for the local industry.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir are not ready to pay a whopping amount of toll tax after the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime in the country,” JCCI president Rakesh Gupta said.
He said that the chamber had decided to launch a protest during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on Sunday but deferred the move conditionally after getting an assurance fromGovernor Satya Pal Malik that their issues would be taken on priority.
The chamber is pressing for implementation of ‘one nation one tax’ by removing toll tax and allotment of land for a dry port for which an MoU was signed in February last year. A meeting of the chamber and the state administration is likely to take place this week, he said and warned the administration that if these two utmost important issues are not resolved in the proposed meeting, the Chamber would have no choice but to take the agitation route to press for its demand.
Strongly opposing the idea of withdrawal of toll tax at Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab, the FOIJ and the FCIK expressed concern over the “repeated attempts of some vested interests” to destroy the Industrial sector in the state and requested the governor to continue with the arrangement to safeguard the state industry.
“The Toll at Lakhanpur prevents import and export of unaccounted goods, contraband and other banned items and it should be continued to safeguard the industrial sector in the state,” FOIJ Chairman Lalit Mahajan said after a joint meeting with FCIK delegation here. If the government withdraws the toll tax checkpost, the whole state will be flooded with the unaccounted goods and other related material which will prove as a death knell for the Industrial sector of the state,” he claimed.
Earlier, Excise Commissioner Talat Parvez Rohella told PTI that the continuation of toll tax at Lakhanpur is imperative to safeguard the local industry and also to generate revenue to provide better facilities.
“Our state is consumer state and as long as the two reasons remain there, we have to continue with this practice,” he said.
The commissioner said under Section V of the state constitution, the government has the powers to impose levy on goods other than the GST. The Constitution of India also empowers the states to levy any tax, other than GST, under Schedule VII.
“We do not have resources as we do not implement property tax, wealth tax, municipal tax and even our electricity cost is less compared to other states. The Lakhanpur toll plaza supports our budget as Rs 1,000 crore is generated annually which help the government to provide facilities to the people,” he said.
Secondly, Rohella said the industries which operate here do not get raw material locally and they have to import it from outside the state.
“When they produce finished goods here they need protection as our industry cannot compete with neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh where the raw material is easily available and the industrialists enjoy concession on electricity,” he added.
The department is also keeping a close watch in the areas bordering Punjab to stop illegal smuggling of various goods, including cement from the neighbouring state.
“We have apprehended some people who were trying to smuggle cement through riverbed routes into the state. We are keeping a vigil round-the-clock to ensure that the smugglers do not succeed,” he said.
He said cement manufacturers in other states have added advantage compared to Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have to bring everything, from costly machinery to raw material, from outside and our cement industry cannot compete with neighbouring states, which get the raw material locally and can lower the rates at will. The toll plaza works as an advantage for the local industry,” he said. However, he said the department is planning to introduce online payment system and cashless transactions to ensure hassle-free clearance of goods at Lakhanpur toll plaza.
“We are providing handheld POS machines to the staff at the plaza to ensure payment through credit and debit cards as well,” Rohella noted.


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Azad on Jharkhand lynching: Keep new India with you, give us old India

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New Delhi, Jun 24: Coming down heavily on the government over recent incidents of lynching and crime in Jharkhand, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the state has become a factory of lynching and violence, “requesting” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “give us our Old India where there was love, culture.”

“Dalits and Muslims are killed there every week. The PM, we are with you in the fight of ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’, but it should be there for people to see it. We can’t see it anywhere,” Azad said in Rajya Sabha.

“I request you to keep the New India to yourself and give us our Old India where there was love, culture. Hindus used to feel the pain when Muslims and Dalits used to get hurt. When something used to get into the eyes of Hindus, Muslims and Dalits used to shed tears for them,” he added.

 

“In Old India, there was no hatred, anger or lynching. New India is one where humans are enemies of each other. You won’t be scared of animals in a jungle, but you’ll be scared of humans in a colony. Give us India where Hindus, Muslims,Sikhs and Christians live for each other,” he said.

In yet another lynching incident, a Muslim man was beaten up mercilessly for over 18 hours on the suspicion of theft in Jharkhand’s Kharsawan district on Saturday. The 24-year-old victim, identified as Tabrez Ansari, was attacked by a mob on June 18 and was later handed over to the police. He had been in the judicial custody since June 18 and was taken to a hospital on June 22 after his condition deteriorated. On the same day, Ansari succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

Several videos of the incident emerged on social media show a man hitting Tabrez brutally with a wooden stick while forcing him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. The videos of the Jharkhand mob lynching case have gone viral on social networking sites ever since the incident came to the light.

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GoI approves amendments to give more teeth to NIA

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New Delhi, Jun 24: The Union Cabinet is learnt to have approved a proposal to amend two laws to give more teeth to the NIA in probing ‘terror’ cases in India and abroad, sources said Monday.

Separate bills will be introduced in Parliament in the coming days to amend the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, they said.

The amendments will also allow the NIA probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking, sources aware of the proposal said.

 

Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have ‘terror links as a terrorist’. As of now, only organisations are designated as ‘terrorist organisations’.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai attack that had claimed 166 lives.

Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been considering the two laws to give more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges, the sources pointed out.

Another proposal to introduce a bill to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians could not be taken up Monday.

A similar bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month.

“The agenda of the Law Ministry stands postponed,” a functionary said.

As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies they are registered.

The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is as of now available to service personnel only.

Another proposal to amend the Representation of the People Act related to the spouses of service voters could not be taken up on Monday.

As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law.

The bill proposes to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, thus making the provision gender-neutral. Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.

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Youths click selfies, walk alongside Leopard in Kishtwar

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Srinagar, Jun 24: Pointing towards the increasing man-animal conflict is J&K, a video that went viral on Monday shows a few youth carelessly walking right alongside a leopard on a tarred road while clicking photos and videos in some mountainous region.

The incident reportedly took place in Chingam area of Kishtwar district. The video shows at least three youth audaciously ambling near the leopard that, surprisingly, isn’t aggressive.

The incident comes to the fore      days after days after two leopards were spotted in residential areas of Budgam and Srinagar.

 

Deputy conservator of forests, wild life division, Kashmir, Rouf Zargar had told The Kashmir Monitor that one female leopard and an adult cub were spotted at Ompora, Budgam.

“They were spotted in the adjacent villages of Budgam and Airport. We are doing our best to trace them. Till the time we catch those, people should refrain from moving out during nights and in the wee hours,” he said.

There has been a spike in man-animal conflict in the last few years with several incidents of attacks by bears and leopards taking place in multiple areas of the valley.

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