Centre trying to intimidate arhtiyas: Punjab CM

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Chandigarh, Dec 19 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday accused the Centre of adopting “intimidatory tactics” against “arhtiyas” by conducting income tax raids on their premises.

He warned that such “draconian measures” will further aggravate the angst of people against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government.

The income tax raids were conducted on the premises of several big “arhtiyas” (commission agents) of Punjab within a span of just four days of issuing notices without waiting for response, claimed Amarinder in a statement here.

Even the local police were not informed or taken into confidence as is the normal procedure, he claimed, adding that the CRPF was used to provide security during the raids by the I-T teams.

Terming the clearly “motivated” I-T raids against some commission as an obvious “pressure tactic” to curb their democratic right and freedom, Amarinder said these “oppressive” actions will backfire against the ruling BJP.

The chief minister said it is evident that having “failed” to persuade, “mislead and divide” farmers into ending their prolonged protest against the black farm laws, the Centre is now trying to “weaken” their struggle by targeting the commission agents, who have been actively supporting the farmers' agitation.

“What is this if not a clear case of vendetta politics by the Centre, which is hell-bent on demolishing the farmers' protest by hook or crook,” asked Amarinder Singh.

Among the victims of the night-long raids were Vijay Kalra (president, Punjab Arhtiya Association), Pawan Kumar Goyal (president, Samana Mandi), Jaswinder Singh Rana (Patiala district president), Manjinder Singh Walia (president Nawanshahr), Hardeep Singh Ladda (president, Rajpura) and Kartar Singh and Amrik Singh (commission agents from Rajpura), he said.

A total of 14 commission agents from across Punjab received notices from the IT Department, he said.

Amarinder Singh said this is not the first instance of “misuse” of a central agency by the Union government to browbeat dissidents into succumbing to its writ and diktats.

“These bullying actions of the government do not augur well for the world's largest democracy,” he added.

Farmers from different parts of the country, including Haryana and Punjab, have been camping at various border points of Delhi for over three weeks to demand a repeal of the Centre’s farm laws. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK