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Won’t pay property tax, say residents of Badamibagh Cantonment areas

Residents of areas falling under Badamibagh Cantonment Board in the summer capital have decided against paying property taxes alleging that the authorities have “unilaterally” valued their properties and assessed the amounts to be paid.

The move from the general public came after they received fresh notices from the Badamibagh Cantonment Board asking them to clear the liability under property tax.In J&K no property tax is levied, and as per residents of Badamibagh Cantonment, “forcing people to pay property tax is an effort to surpass Article 370 by every means and further weaken the special status of the state.”

“We will not allow board authorities to implement any central law in our areas. Why we shall be governed by the law which is not applicable in J&K,” said one for the locals of Batwara, wishing not to be named.

“No central law can be applicable to J&K if it is not ratified by the state legislature. The cantonment act 2006 was passed by the parliament but was never ratified by the J&K legislation. Therefore, its implementation in state or in any part of the J&K is null and void.”

Chairman Sub Auqaf Committee Batwara, Habibullah Bhat said that the representatives from various localities are meeting shortly to chalk out the future strategy. “We have communicated to the board authorities to roll back the property tax order or face agitation. In case they fail to roll it back or start to harm or threaten us in any manner for this tax collection, we will have no option but to take to streets,” said Bhat.Locals said that all seven board members had opposed the imposition of this controversial property tax and also passed a resolution in this regard. “However, the chief executive officer of Board had arbitrarily issued the order for its collection,” said another local resident.

Local residents said the devastating flood of 2014 also shattered their economy. “We are yet to come out of the destruction. This (tax) is not acceptable to us,” said a local resident.Earlier, the Badamibagh Cantonment Board had served notices to people residing in its jurisdiction and business establishment for filing details of property and business owned by them for imposition of Property Tax. However, people refused to file it and opposed the tax from the day one.

A cantonment board is an area notified by government of India and is governed by Cantonment Act. Apart from defense establishments, civilian population also resides in the notified area. In 2013, the then National Conference-Congress government had to shelve the proposal for imposing property tax after separatists threatened to launch state wide agitation against the move.

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