Punjab commission agents go on strike over tax raids

Commission agents, locally known as ‘arhtiyas’, went on a four-day strike in Punjab on Tuesday in protest against ‘intimidatory’ raids by Income Tax Department for supporting the farmers’ agitation

Photo Courtesy: IANS
Photo Courtesy: IANS


Commission agents, locally known as 'arhtiyas', went on a four-day strike in Punjab on Tuesday in protest against the 'intimidatory' raids by the Income Tax Department on them for supporting the farmers' agitation against the Central farm laws.

The state has two federations -- the Punjab Arhtiyas Association led by Ravinder Singh Cheema and the Federation of Arhtiyas led by Vijay Kalra -- and both went on strike.

They said the tax raids have been conducted on the 'arhtiyas' for expressing solidarity with the farmers' protest at the Delhi borders.

"All the arhtiyas will keep their shops shut in the protest against the revengeful act of the Central government towards them for supporting the farmers' agitation," Cheema said.

According to the Punjab government, 14 prominent arhtiyas in the state have received tax notices.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on December 19 castigated the Centre for its intimidatory tactics against the commission agents supporting the agitating farmers.

He warned that such draconian measures will further aggravate the angst of the people against the BJP-led Central government.

Terming the clearly motivated Income Tax raids as an obvious pressure tactic to curb their democratic rights and freedom, Amarinder Singh said these oppressive actions will go against the ruling BJP.

The Chief Minister said it was evident that having failed to persuade, mislead and divide the farmers into ending their prolonged protest against the 'black' farm laws, the Central government was now trying to weaken their struggle by targeting the 'arhtiyas', who have been actively supporting the agitation since day one.

The IT raids were conducted at the premises of several big 'arhtiyas' within a span of just four days after issuing notices, without waiting for responses to the notices, Amarinder Singh noted, dubbing it a clear debasement of the due process of law.

Even the local police were not informed or taken into confidence, as is the normal procedure, and instead the CRPF was used to provide security during the raids by the Income Tax teams, he pointed out.

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