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Bilasipara traders flee before tax raid

Dhubri, Sept. 3: Sales and income tax (vigilance) tax officers today raided shops in Bilasipara town this afternoon but most of the big trading houses had downed shutters and the owners fled fearing arrests.

The team of 46 officers, led by assistant sales tax director B.B. Hajong, came in five cars and three busses to carry out the raid.

On August 22, a section of traders allegedly attacked sales tax officials and damaged two cars. Police had to rescue them from clutches of the mob.

Sources in Bilasipara trading community said sales tax officials divided into seven to eight groups raided shops of wholesalers and retailers — who kept their shops open — and examined their sales record books.

“Those who downed their shutters and absconded are being summoned by the officials,” a trader of Bilasipara town said.

The secretary of Bilasipara Babasayee Samiti, Satyajit Saha, protested against the “vindictive attitude” of tax officials who, after the raids on August 22, are “targeting selective business houses”.

“We are small traders and pay regular sales tax. We submit and file our tax returns. We hide nothing. Sales tax officials may come to check our sales documents, but the way they are raiding our business houses, it seems that they are taking revenge which is very unfortunate,” Saha said.

Saha also clarified that it was a mob that damaged the cars and chased the sales tax officials on August 22 and no trader was involved in it.

He appealed to the police and sales tax officials not to treat traders as criminals.

Earlier, on August 29, Surajit Basak, a worker of a jewellery shop, was arrested. On September 1, 14 people were picked up by the police and three among them were arrested while others were freed after interrogation.

Most the prominent traders of Bilasipara town are absconding fearing imminent arrest by the police for their alleged involvement in the attack on sales tax officials and damaging cars.

The police also prepared a second list of 14 traders on the basis of some video clippings. They would be picked up any time, a police source said.

Dhubri superintendent of police Mridulananda Sarma said law would take its own course and those who are guilty would be booked.

“The average business is down for quite a long time and if this situation prevails in Bilasipara town, it will affect trade before Puja,” a trader said.

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