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Tuesday, September 8, 1998
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Excise raids spark violence
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Sept 7 — The local police today fired in the air to disperse traders who had gheraoed and manhandled a sub-inspector accompanying a van carrying account books seized in an excise raid at Sirhandi Bazar.

Traders stopped the van carrying account books of Dalip Singh Kanhaya Singh by lying in front of it. Following this they forced Sub-inspector Uttam Singh to come out of the vehicle and manhandled him, besides breaking his wireless set. Sub-inspector Anil Sharma, who was escorting the van, intervened to save his colleague by firing some rounds in the air.

The situation became explosive when SP (city) Gurpreet Singh reached the spot and traders started pelting stones and soda-water bottles at the Policy party. The police resorted to a lathi charge to disperse the mob.

District police chief Parampal Singh Sidhu said three policemen had been injured in the stone-throwing. He said the police had identified the miscreants behind the incident and cases are being registered against them. He said the miscreants were absconding. Mr Sidhu said the situation was, however, under control.

Following the lathicharge, traders collected in front of the office of the Excise and Taxation Commissioner and held a demonstration there. Speaking on the occasion, Beopar Mandal leaders criticised the Excise Department for "harassing" the traders.

Earlier in the morning the Excise and Taxation Department officials had conducted two raids which prompted the agitation. While the first raids, which was carried out on the shop and godown of Gupta Sanitary Stores passed off peacefully, traders came out into the streets after the second raid, conducted on the shop and godown of Dalip Singh Kanhaya Singh.

Talking to TNS Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, H.M.S. Rosha said raids had been conducted on the premises of Dalip Singh Kanhaya Singh following a tip off that the traders were keeping crackers worth crores of rupees in their godown. He said besides the discovery of crackers being kept illegally in the basement of an undeclared godown in a residential area, a large number of duplicate account books were also seized. He said the account books contained details of clandestine transactions worth crores of rupees.

Mr Rosha said a deliberate attempt was being made to block excise and taxation raids. He said, earlier also, on August 22, shopkeepers of Dharampura Bazar had seized account books from excise officials besides manhandling a driver of the raiding party. The department was, however, determined to check evasion of sales tax.

He said Excise and Taxation Commissioner Sudhir Mittal appreciated the efforts of local officers in unearthing the excise evasion 'scandal' in Patiala and reiterated the government's decision to deal firmly with tax evaders.back

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