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Those trying to stop Durga Puja in Bengal won’t be spared: Mamata Banerjee

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Mamata Banerjee (File Photo)

Kolkata, Jan 11: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday flayed the Income Tax Commissioner’s circular seeking expenditure details from all major Durga Puja organisers in the state, and asked the big clubs to avoid the central tax authorities.

Banerjee questioned whether the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was trying to stop the Durga Puja festivity in Bengal by taking away the organisers’ money in the form of income tax and warned that her party would not spare anyone who tries to do so.

“Durga Puja is our biggest festival. People of all communities participate in the festival. They have sent notice to the Durga Puja committee seeking a detailed report of their expenditure. The puja committees are asked to pay income tax. These clubs mostly run on non-profit model. They do not hold the pujas for making profit. Why would they pay income tax?” Banerjee said while talking at the inauguration of the 23rd Jatra Utsav in North 24 Parganas district.

“Are they (Centre) trying to stop the Durga Puja here? Be it Modi or anyone else from the Bharatiya Janata Party, we will not spare anyone who tries to lay hands on any of these clubs. I urge all the clubs to unite and avoid going to the Income Tax department,” she added.

Pointing out that the pujas are organised using the common people’s money in the form of subscriptions and donations, the Trinamool Congress supremo claimed that the Centre has no right to take away the money as they do not make any contribution.

“This is common man’s money. Even the state government has given Rs 10,000 to the clubs during puja for community development purposes but what did you (Centre) provide? Why would they take away money?” she questioned.

She said several religious places and prominent temples in the country like the Balaji Temple, Golden Temple, the Kali Temple and Ajmer Sharif dargah, also do not pay any taxes.

“They are trying to harass the Dura Puja devotees. They have failed to catch the real fraudsters who evade paying taxes and are now living in foreign countries,” Banerjee added.

The Commissioner of Income Tax department had sent a notice to the major Durga Puja organisers of the state in December to furnish expenditure details incurred during the festival in 2018.

IANS

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Himachal Pradesh : Three houses gutted in fire in Mandi

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Maharashtra fire


Himachal Pradesh, Jan 23 : As many as three houses were gutted in a massive fire at Mandi district in Chhatri market area on Wednesday.

A major fire broke out in Chhatri market area of Mandi district. Fire tenders are present at the spot.

Fire fighting operation is underway. No injuries or casualties have been reported yet.

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Road links in Himachal hampered after snowfall; hundreds stranded

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Himachal Pradesh snowfall

Shimla, Jan 23: Road links in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday were hampered a day after widespread snow and rain, blocking highways and link roads, while hundreds of commuters were stranded across the state, officials said here.

Snow hit vehicular movement beyond Shimla town, while traffic on the Pathankot-Chamba highway was also badly hit. The entire Kinnaur district is cut off. However, there was no loss of life.

After two consecutive days of snow, most of the roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.

Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal were cut off, a government official told IANS.

While picturesque tourist town Manali recorded 30 cm of snowfall, it was 39.6 cm in Kalpa and 30 cm in Manali. Dharamsala had 53 mm of rainfall.

“There is no movement of traffic towards Kinnaur district on the national highway five beyond Tapri. Work is on to restore electricity in Kinnaur. The Pangi valley in Chamba district is also cut off from the rest of the state,” an official said.

State capital Shimla saw 44.5 cm of snowfall and a low of zero degree.

The higher reaches of Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, Shimla, Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts have been experiencing snow.

Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over three feet of snowfall.

Officials said bad weather has affected the road network in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Kullu and Sirmaur districts and efforts were being made to reopen the roads.

There are chances of moderate snow in the state till Thursday, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told IANS.

The government has advised people not to venture to the high hills of Kullu, Shimla and Kinnaur districts owing to avalanche threat.

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Cloudy Delhi morning, 25 trains delayed

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New Delhi, Jan 23: It was a cold and cloudy morning in the national capital on Wednesday with the minimum temperature recorded at 8 degrees Celsius, the Met said. At least 25 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to dense fog in several parts of northern India.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day with chances of light rain or thundershowers,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

A fog cover delayed 25 trains heading here by two to six hours.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 per cent. Visibility in Safdarjung area at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres while in the Palam area the visibility at 7.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres.

The city recorded 27.8 mm rain in last 24 hours.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality here continued to be ‘moderate’ as on Tuesday, with the air quality index (AQI) being 99.

On Tuesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 19.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average, while the minimum was 12.5 around five notches above normal.

IANS

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