New Delhi, Mar 19 (UNI) A Congress member from Jammu and Kashmir today sought prompt government action to prevent what he described as ''loot of 17,000 labourers'' working at the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi in the state.
A highly-agitated Choudhary Lal Singh, who got the support of the House, including that of Left member Basudeb Acharia, on the issue he raised during zero hour, forced Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to adjourn the House when he walked towards the well.
Earlier, when the Congress member asked if labour was taxed anywhere in the world, Mr Acharia, whose name had already been called by the Chair to raise his issue, quipped " No".
Members across party lines supported Mr Choudhary when he pointed out 17,000 labourers working at the temple were exploited both by the government and private contractors. He disclosed that a "pithuwala", who carried a devotee on his back, took home a paltry Rs 120 per trip from Katra, starting point of pilgrimage, to Bhavan, where the shrine is located, after deduction of a tax of Rs 33 and Rs 9 of contractor's commission. Similarly, a "pithuwala", who plied devout on horseback, got just Rs 200 per himself and the animal per trip after deduction of Rs 33 and Rs 10 respectively. Before, Mr Choudhary could narrate the fate of "palkiwala", a group of four people who take a pilgrim in a palaquin on the holy trail to Vaishno Devi, Mr Atwal called Mr Acharia to make his point. But instead of yielding to the Marxist member, who agreed that labour is not taxed anywhere in the world, the Congress member walked towards the well of the House, forcing the deputy speaker to adjourn for lunch.
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