Surat: Textile traders protest against GST, lathi-charged on BJP leader’s order

Surat: After GST in place, the textile market in Surat has come under a fear of losing business. With the unified tax system, there is a potential threat of closing down of small businesses. The traders had barely come out of the effects of demonetization and now GST has made their trade more difficult.

Thousands of traders gathered at the Millennium Market to protest against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Surat on Monday. The traders feared that the introduction of GST would be a harassment of small traders engaged in textile and apparel business. However, they were lathi-charged by the police, TH reports.

There are 175 retail and wholesale textile and apparel markets in Surat with more than 60,000 traders generating Rs 300 crore per day. “We will not accept GST on fabrics. It will ruin our trade and that the small traders will have to shut their shops,” said Sanjay Jagnani, a textile trader said.

The hub of textile manufacturing had suffered losses worth crores due to three months of the cash crunch earlier, they had to pay income tax earlier, but now their burden has been increased with GST.

On Sunday, BJP MP CR Patil had a meeting with some traders and pursued them to end the agitation. However, the majority of traders remained firm that the strike would continue till the GST was removed from the fabric. “On Monday, a few traders tried to open their shops after meeting with CR Patil, who tried to create divisions among traders and merchants. At Patil’s behest, police lathi-charged the protesters to scare them,” a trader said, alleging that the government machinery was being used to suppress the agitation by traders.

“Some traders had met the MP who asked them to open shops and promised to provide them police security against those who insisted on continuing with the indefinite bandh. The police started beating up the protesting traders even when they were carrying out their protest peacefully,” trader Gaurav Shrimali said after the police lathi-charged the agitators.

Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel slammed the police for lathi-charge. “Shocking that police have used brutal force against Surat traders protesting against GST. The government must reason with them, not suppress them,” Mr Patel tweeted, condemning the police action.