West Bengal jewellers on 72-hour strike

June 8th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 8 (IANS) About 40,000 jewellers in West Bengal started a 72-hour strike Monday in protest against alleged harassment by income-tax (IT) department officials.
The strike, called by two trade-related organisations, is in support of putting a stop to “inhuman IT raids” that protesters said often went on for more than 24 hours.

Bablu De, one of the strikers’ leaders, charged IT officials with fixing valuation of pure gold for gold-coated bronze bangles and levying huge taxes.

“Also, they (officials) are treating cheap American diamonds as diamonds and levying taxes worth crores and fine of 300 percent even on small jewellers. There are instances where small jewellers have been asked to cough up Rs.6-7 crore as taxes and fines,” he said.

“This has been continuing for the last three-four months. The IT officials are abusive and often use foul language.”

The strike sponsors were trying to fix up an appointment with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to apprise him of their problems.

De said with the total daily average business in the state being around Rs.50 crore, the total loss during the strike period would be around Rs.150 crore.

“The state government will lose a large amount of VAT (value-added tax), while the centre will also lose out on income taxes,” he said.

State income tax officials were not available for comments on the strike.

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