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Vaishno Devi pilgrimage: BJP seeks immediate roll-back of service tax on J-K chopper services


Jammu, Sep 9: Ruling coalition partner BJP today demanded that the Jammu and Kashmir government revoke at once the service tax imposed on helicopter services in the state, saying it "cannot ignore the sentiments of lakhs of pilgrims".

Ishfaq-Ur-Rehman Poswal, BJP leader and national executive member, ST Morcha, warned J-K Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu that if the service tax was not rolled back, "it can lead to Amaranth land row-like situation, for which he (Drabu) would be fully responsible".

J&K: 'Rollback tax on chopper services'.
The BJP leader claimed that the minister was misleading the nation by stating that the tax had been imposed on all helicopter services in J-K as there is only one such service, that for Vaishno Devi pilgrims.

"The finance minister should know that the issue of service tax is directly related to the aspirations of lakhs of pilgrims across India and, especially, in J-K," Poswal said.

Claiming that BJP was the first party which had objected to the imposition of service tax, Poswal alleged that the J-K finance minister was making "irresponsible" statements by saying that "some parties" were trying to communalise a simple administrative order that was applicable for the entire state.

"Cable car services and Vaishno Devi pilgrimage cannot be equated to each other. Tourists from across India make use of the cable car service for enjoyment and pilgrims come to Mata Vaishno Devi as a matter of faith," he added.

By justifying the decision to impose the service tax, the finance minister was knowingly playing with the sentiments of lakhs of pilgrims, charged Poswal, whose party is a junior partner in the PDP-led state government.

"What is the point in misleading the nation on service tax imposed by finance ministry on Hindu pilgrimage? The ministry cannot ignore the sentiments of lakhs of pilgrims and must roll back the service tax," Poswal added.

J-K government recently imposed a tax of 12.5 per cent on sale of tickets for commercial helicopter services in the state with the move -- which will mostly impact Amarnath and Vaishno Devi pilgrims -- having been slammed by various political parties and social organisations in Jammu.


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