Agra handicrafts workers strike work to protest tax

February 13th, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Feb 13 (IANS) Thousands of craftsmen, skilled artisans, handicrafts manufacturers and emporia owners held a sit-in and went on a day-long strike here Friday to protest the imposition of tax on handicraft items.
The protesters held the sit-in at the Shaheed Smarak in the busy Sanjay Place commercial complex Friday to protest the imposition of 4 percent tax on handicraft items.

“In no other Indian state is there a tax on handicrafts,” Abhinav Jain, a leading exporter of marble products, told IANS.

While talking about the protest, Jain said: “In the first phase it is a day-long strike by traders, emporia owners, manufacturers and skilled artisans. If the state government does not withdraw the tax, we will think of other ways to get our point of view across.”

The Tourist Welfare Chamber, an umbrella organisation of various tourism and travel related organisations, has supported the strike.

Tourism industry leaders Prahlad Agarwal, Rakesh Chauhan, Shamshuddin, Rajeev Saxena, Ashok Jain, Rajeev Tiwari, Vinay Bansal and others have also supported the day-long strike.

Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society president Surendra Sharma said: “The government should be supporting the handicrafts industry, but instead it is planning to kill the centuries-old industry of this region which supports hundreds of thousands of people.”

Major handicraft products of Agra are leather items, marble inlay work, showpieces, carpets, ethnic garments, jardozi and embroidery items.

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