The Congress party on Monday attacked the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir for levying service tax on pilgrims availing chopper service to the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, questioning if it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's version of “jizya (tax)”.
“Is this Modi's definition of jizya tax on pilgrims to Vaishno Devi?” asked party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.
The J&K government has levied 12.5% service tax on Vaishno Devi pilgrims traveling from Katra to the shrine by chopper. Due to this, pilgrims will have to shell out Rs 2,340 in place of Rs 2,078 for the two-way journey.
“You have hurt the faith of people,” Singhvi said, accusing the government of “trying to control” the pilgrimage.
He alleged that the “obnoxious reason” given for this decision is to reduce the number of pilgrims. “They do not realise that number of pilgrims has already come down from 93 lakh in 2013 to 78 lakh in 2014 on account of such bizarre policy of the state government.”
Singhvi also charged Modi with doing “politics, accounting jugglery, deceit and brazenly befooling” people who await the comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package of Rs 44,000 crore promised by the Prime Minister in the run up to J&K polls as part of the BJP’s much-touted “Mission 44+”.
“Today is the first anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir floods… Hollowness of Modi's promises and abject failure of state government to provide any help have led to call of a Kashmir bandh today by Kashmir Economic Alliance, a coalition of non-political trade bodies,” he said.
“There is a non-terrorist shut down in the Valley due to the fraud perpetuated by the Centre and state government,” Singhvi added.