In occupied Kashmir, amid growing chorus against Goods and Services Tax (GST), Kashmir’s prominent trade bodies and civil society members have threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement if the puppet regime goes ahead with implementing the new tax law.
According to media sources, addressing a roundtable conference in Srinagar on the GST issue, former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi said that occupied Kashmir would lose its law-making powers on taxation matters once the GST was implemented. The Indian Parliament would then make laws on indirect taxes for Jammu and Kashmir and the GST Council would decide on tax rates for us, he said.
The conference was called by the civil society group, Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), to discuss the GST issue that has snowballed into a major controversy in the territory.
The former President of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Syed Shakeel Qalandar, said that the GST would also affect the small industries which get tax exemptions and other incentives. “It is a conspiracy to destroy Kashmir’s industry and strangulate its economy,” he added.
Seeking a wider consultation and discussion on the GST, former bureaucrat Muhammad Shafi Pandit, said that the draft legislation should be put in public domain. “The Finance Minister is saying that the draft legislation cannot be put in public domain on the pretext that it is privilege of the legislature but in countries like South Africa, the law-making process is taken to the village-level,” he said.
Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said, “The GST regime is an attack on those fundamentals which we have, so far, protected.”
Member of the so-called Kashmir Assembly, Engineer Abdur Rasheed said that the puppet administration was surrendering its powers by implementing the GST. “New Delhi is trying to snatch everything associated with Kashmir’s unique identity. We cannot turn a blind eye to our constitutional and political issues while fighting for Azadi,” he maintained.
The Chairman of pro-India Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) Ghulam Hassan Mir said that there was no doubt in the fact that GST would dilute Kashmir’s taxation powers. He criticized the puppet administration for failing to explain how it would protect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The leaders of pro-India National Conference, Showkat Ahmad Mir and Shammi Oberoi, opposed the implementation of GST.
Senior Vice President FCIK, Javaid Ahmad Butt, said that they would face bullets but would not allow the implementation of the GST.
A resolution passed at the roundtable conference said that the GST was completely unacceptable. “All the participants were of the view that a civil disobedience movement will be launched if the GST was implemented,” the resolution read.
Others who addressed the conference included Prof Gul Wani, Prof Nissar Ali, Prof Hameeda Nayeem, Abdul Majid Zargar, Javaid Iqbal, ZG Muhammad, Syed Niyaz Shah, Ali Muhammad Sherazi, Siraj Ahmad, John Muhammad Koul, Showkat Choudhary, Zahoor Butt, Zinaul Abedin, Saqib Mir, Ehtisham Shakeel and Sheikh Ghulam Rasool. The conference was attended by the representatives of various political parties, trade bodies, civil society organizations and academicians and lawyers.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation ( KTMF) has called for a complete shutdown in the occupied territory, tomorrow (July 01), the day the Indian government is planning to implement GST in India. While the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) has said that it would launch a hunger strike on the same day.
The KTMF leader, Bashir Ahmad Rather, in an interview said that all stakeholders should observe strike on Saturday to protest implementation of GST which was a direct attack on special status of the territory.
Shaher-e-Khaas Traders Federation has also called for a strike on July 1 in case the puppet administration decides to go ahead with the implementation of GST. The President of the Federation, Nazir Ahmad Shah, said that the GST was anti-people tax regime which would rob Kashmir of its special status.
The Acting Chairman of KEA, Farooq Ahmad Dar, said that anti-GST rallies would be held to create awareness among people of how the taxation regime would erode special financial status of the territory.