Income Tax raids against arhtiyas in Punjab continued for the second day on Saturday with so far total 7 arhtiyas being raided since Friday evening.
Among those who were raided in the presence of 2 bus-loads each of CRPF personnel, were Vijay Kalra (President, Punjab Arthiya Federation and Vice-Chairman of Punjab Mandi Board), Pawan Kumar Goyal (President of Samana Mandi), Jaswinder Singh Rana (Patiala district president of arhtiyas association), Manjinder Singh Walia (President, Nawanshahr Arhtiya Association), Hardeep Singh Ladda (President, Rajpura Arhtiya Association) and Kartar Singh & Amrik Singh (Rajpura arhtiyas). A total of 14 arhtiyas across Punjab have so far received notices from the I-T department.
Mostly those targeted are the ones who have been at the forefront in sending buses, vehicles full of arhtiyas and mandi labourers to dharna sites in Delhi and issuing statements to the press.
Speaking to The Indian Express, they informed that the I-T sleuths reached their premises late on Friday post 11 pm, claiming it was routine checking.
Walia said that I-T sleuths reached his home, shop and hotel on Friday late and took some documents along, and him asked to appear before the department on December 23 along with documents related to the source of income.
Kalra was asked to appear before I-T on December 28 at Bathinda. He said that arhtiyas are being targeted across the state and they are being targeted because they are also participating in the farmer’s agitation.
“Why should we not support them when they are protesting for their rights and also these laws are not only anti-farmer but also anti-arhtiyas as government wants to bring big corporates by replacing arhtiyas, who standby farmers all the time,” he added.
He said that Income Tax teams are coming along with para-military forces for conducting raids. “Are we criminals,” he questioned.
Punjab Arhtiya Association president Ravinder Singh Cheema said that the Association has decided to go to the Supreme Court against the Income Tax raids. “We have also decided to close the mandis of the state for the indefinite period from Monday,” he said, adding: “First they faced pressure from the I-T department verbally and then written notices and summons were issued to them and now they have resorted to raids.”
The officials at Income Tax department, Chandigarh, were tight lipped over the raids and a senior officer told The Indian Express that they were only following the instructions from their Delhi headquarters.
Director General income Tax (Investigation), Chandigarh, M V Bhanumathi could not be contacted.
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