Surat (Gujarat): More than a lakh people on Saturday participated in a silent protest march taken out in Surat - one of India's largest textile clusters, where textile traders are on indefinite strike after the Union Government imposed Goods & Services Tax (GST) on yarn, fabrics and job work.
Carrying placards saying "GST Hatao, Vyapar Bachao" protesters silently walked for three km through the city's main textile market, wearing black bandannas. The rally started from Kalasar Gate and ended at Kinnari Chowk.
"The protest will continue until the government accepts our demand to roll back 05% GST on textile products", Gaurav Shrimali, convener of GST Sangharsh Samiti said.
“The cloths we manufacture come under essential commodities category and they were never taxed before. The government had promised that GST will not be imposed on items that are currently outside the tax net. The textile industry will be finished if the levy is not removed from cloths”, Dev Kisan Mangani, Samiti’s core committee member said.
He said the textile traders have been paying taxes on yarn and will happily pay GST on yarn. “But, the GST on fabrics is not acceptable at any cost”, he said.
“The government can increase few percent more on yarn but should revoke GST on fabrics as it will ruin the industry”, he added.
The textile traders in Surat are on strike since June. They had also held protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Last Monday, they were baton charged when their protest turned violent after local BJP MP tried to divide the rank and file of protesters in order to end the strike.
Meanwhile, situation continued to be grave in other textile clusters including Bhiwandi, Malegaon, Ahmedabad and Kolkata following the unrest in the industry after imposition of GST.
The powerloom units in Malegaon and Bhiwandi which were closed on June 25 for Eid holiday, have not resumed operation so far.
"We are keeping a watch of the situtaion and will resume operation only after strikes in major textile clusters are called off", Arif Ansari of NS Fabrics said.