Continuing their agitation against the state government over issues of property tax and VAT refunds, members of the Joint action committee of industrialists and traders on Monday staged a dharna outside the residence of minister of forests and wildlife conservation Chunni Lal Bhagat.
The members gathered outside the house at 12noon, sat on a dharna and raised slogans against the state government. The minister was not at home as he has reportedly gone abroad.
Addressing the gathering, Nirmal Singh Bedi, a trader, rued that despite paying huge taxes, urbanites were being snubbed and heavily taxed by the state government.
"We contribute over Rs. 5,000 crore in the shape of different types of taxes. By taxing us heavily, the state government is giving freebies to farmers and rural population. This all is happening due to non-effectiveness the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who had meekly surrendered before the Shiromani Akali Dal party," he said.
Gursharan Singh, a representative of industrialists, said, "The traders and other adversely affected urbanites had decided to teach a lesson to the ruling alliance leaders across the state in the forthcoming parliamentary elections."
Ravinder Dhir, a representative of the sports industry, quoting an instance to show non-seriousness of BJP leaders towards their demands, said, "A few days ago when they had met Chunni Lal Bhagat on VAT refund, the minister had replied that when he is not able to get VAT refund of his industry, then how he can assure our refunds. Everything is going in a hanky-panky way in the department."
"Thought deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and other BJP leaders have assured us that VAT would be refunded before March 31, but this is a plain lie and a cheap tactic of the state government to delay things. They know very well that by that time, the model code of conduct would be in operation. They want to postpone our issues till the elections, which we will not allow to happen. All the traders and industrialists would vote against the ruling alliance candidates in the polls," Dhir added.
The agitators also announced to hold a massive protest outside the house of chief parliamentary secretary KD Bhandari on February 8.