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Despite BJP’s Appeal to Defense Ministry, Army Issues Property Tax Notices in Srinagar Areas

Despite BJP’s Appeal to Defense Ministry, Army Issues Property Tax Notices in Srinagar Areas

“We’ve built this property from our hard-earned money. It belongs to us. Why would I be asked to pay taxes? Soon they’ll tell us to pay taxes for breathing, because, they may argue, that you live under our jurisdiction.”


SRINAGAR — Barely three months after state wing of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party appealed Defense Ministry to stop issuing property tax notices in Kashmir, Sajad Ahmad of Shivpora has received property tax bill from the Badami Bagh Cantonment Board for the ongoing year.

The tax notice has been served to the Srinagar areas— Sonwar, Indira Nagar, Batwara and Shivpora—falling under the Cantonment Board jurisdiction.

“The property taxes are imposed and bills are being circulated and it’s different for every property,” Sajad told Mountain Ink. “Taxes may increase in coming years and they can grab our properties in case we fail to pay tax.”

The circulated notice informs all the concerned residing within the jurisdiction of Badami Bagh Cantonment area who have not paid the Property/House Tax for the year 2021-22 to deposit the said Taxes at Cantt Fund Account No. 34093050799 of the Chief Executive officer either cash or through online mode before September 30, 2021. 

The Demand Notice vide letter no. 7/6/3536/CB/BB/609 dated 01.09.2021 was sent to the residents of the Cantonment Area by post.

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Residents who fail to pay the taxes, the Cantonment Board will issue a warrant of distress/attachment or a suit will be filed for the recovery of the same with costs.

The bills have been charged as per the value of the property. Taxes are assessed on the basis of lighting points, water points, heating points and even fan points. The taxes, locals say, keep on increasing every year.

“Why should we pay tax for our own properties? And how can we pay bills for the so-called maintenance of the locality when there’re potholes everywhere,” a local from Batwara told Mountain Ink

“They’re charging us for even lighting points now. We already pay our electricity bills to PDD for that. So, what do they need taxes for?”

The anguish first surfaced early this year when locals started receiving property tax notices. 

Property tax notice sent early this year.

Sensing the gravity of the matter, BJP’s Kashmir unit had said the prevailing situation is not conducive to collecting property taxes. 

“From the past two years, the financial condition of people is not good and such steps will further create panic in the middle of Covid crisis,” the party said in a statement. “We appeal to the Defense Ministry to stop issuing such notices to people in the middle of a pandemic situation.”

Earlier in 2013, Omar Abdullah-led government had to shelve the proposal for imposing property tax after separatists threatened to launch statewide agitation against the move.

However, in 2017, the Cantonment Board which comes under the Defense Ministry served notices to people residing in its jurisdiction and business establishment for filing details of property and business owned by them for the imposition of property tax. 

The board had warned that whosoever fails to furnish details within 15 days of receiving the notice or provides false information would be liable to a fine of Rs 5000.

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The details which were sought under the notice include the name and address of the owner, date of purchase and price paid for the property, the area covered by the building, number of storeys and number of rooms. Description in each storey with dimensions including stores, kitchens and bathrooms, whether the building is used for residential or commercial purposes.

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In the face of these notices, the residents had moved to court to sort out the issue. But after the abrogation of Article 370, the matter is still pending. 

“Locals even met the concerned army officials and apprised them about the situation before August 5, 2019,” said a local from Shivpora. “We told them that it’s unfair to impose such taxes here when they aren’t enforced elsewhere in Kashmir. But sadly, there was no positive response.”

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Executive Officer Badami Bagh Cantonment, while speaking to Mountain Ink, said that Cantonment Board has the powers under the Cantonment Act, 2006 to impose taxes on people. 

The sole reason for these taxes, he said, is to increase the revenue of the board.

However, on October 19, 2020, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had made an announcement that the administration would not levy any property tax from the people in Jammu and Kashmir. 

“Some people are saying that property tax will be levied from people of J-K,” Sinha had said while addressing people in the Baramulla district. “I am telling you clearly that no such tax would be levied by the UT administration.”

But despite this assurance from Raj Bhawan, the military notice has only made the locals skeptical about some “hidden plan”.

“The average tax bill for every property ranges from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 25000, depending upon the property,” said Danish, a resident of Batwara. 

“We’ve built this property from our hard-earned money. It belongs to us. Why would I be asked to pay taxes? Soon they’ll tell us to pay taxes for breathing, because, they may argue, that you live under our jurisdiction. This is a travesty and absolutely atrocious move.”

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