Punjab News Excise offices remain shut, staff plans bigger strike


Staff member
Patiala/Jalandhar/Mohali April 30:

Working in all Excise and Taxation Department offices in the state suffered today as the employees observed complete strike to protest the non-fulfillment of their demands.

While the traders had to face harassment as tax returns could not be deposited, exact losses due to the stir to the treasury may only be known by tomorrow or in another few days, though sources pegged them at about Rs 50-60 crore.

According to senior Excise officials, the working in the entire state, except on the inter-state barriers, remained suspended due to the mass leave taken by the department employees. "Excise barriers were allowed to work so that there is no mess on the roads. But, we are planning to close them during our next strike," they said.

Traders had to face inconvenience due to the fact that their receipts for cash payment of tax could not be collected in excise offices in Punjab and the entire process would now be done on April 30, the last date for the filing of returns. "Deposits worth over Rs 300 crore got delayed due to the strike." The protesters alleged that the Vigilance Bureau officials were harassing them and the government was not doing enough to check their "interference". The suicide by ETO Ranjit Singh recently was fallout of the menace, they alleged.

Ranjit Singh posted with the department's mobile wing in Mohali had allegedly committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets at his residence in Mohali after he was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for allegedly accepting bribe from a trader to release his goods on March 29. The Excise officials are demanding an independent probe and transfer of the officials concerned, besides Rs 1 crore as compensation to the victim's family. Excise and Taxation Officers Association president Kuldip Singh Dhaliwal said that despite meeting the Chief Minister, nothing concrete had been done.

Meanwhile, the employees union would chalk out their next course of action on May 1 — the day 'bhog' ceremony of Ranjit Singh would be held. Dhaliwal said some new facts with regard to the arrest of the late Ranjit Singh had also come to light. He alleged that the Vigilance officials got Ranjit Singh slapped in full public view by the traders who were "involved" in tax evasion. He said that, in fact, Ranjit Singh had signed the release order and jawans of the RBI accompanying him were counting the cash, which had been paid by the trader as penalty to get seized goods released.