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Traders greet Jaitley with black flags over GST

Ludhiana: Union finance minister Arun Jaitley faced protests from businessmen and farmers over GST, during his visit to the city on Saturday. Seeking its withdrawal, while traders reiterated that the new tax should not have been imposed in such a hurry, the farmers lamented the levying GST on farming inputs and equipment was putting an additional burden on the farmers. Since morning, different groups of industrialists and farmer unions were trying to reach Sat Paul Mittal School in Dugri where Jaitley was scheduled to preside over a function. Though protestors were unable to reach the venue due to heavy police presence, a group of businessmen led by industrialist Jaswinder Thukral managed to dodge the police and gathered near Dugri bridge with black flags and placards reading 'Arun Jaitley Go Back', and 'Arun Jaitley Murdabad'. When Jaitley's cavalcade was returning from the school, the businessmen tried to stop his car, but timely intervention of cops helped prevent the situation. Speaking to TOI, Thukral said, "Our protest was against draconian law of GST forced upon us. Just to fulfil their tenacity, some leaders and Union ministers are attempting to finish the small industry. Today's protest was just a trailer. Businessmen in every city and town are joining hands and gearing up to oppose GST." Representatives of various farmer unions -- Balbir Rajewal, president of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU-Rajewal group) and Harinder Lakhowal, general secretary, BKU-Lakhowal -- met Arun Jaitley and lodged their opposition against imposing GST on the farming sector. Rajewal said, "During our meeting with the Union finance minister, we informed him that levying GST on farming inputs including pesticides, fertilizers, weedicides and farm machinery will put an additional burden of Rs 750 crore on farmers of Punjab and the government should immediately withdraw GST from our sector." He added, "We also asked him why the Centre is refusing to give financial assistance to states for loan waivers of farmer while it is aiding the corporate sector by waiving their huge debts under the garb of declaring them bankrupt. I even gave examples of companies whose huge debt has been waived off." However, Jaitley refuted the allegations of loan waivers of corporates and said that these are all rumours which have been spread by the opposition. He even challenged the representatives of farmer unions to give any documentary evidence in support of their allegations. Meanwhile, he also assured the delegation that their demands will be studied by his ministry and they will be invited to Delhi for discussions and resolution of their problems.

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