Kolkata: More than two lakhs sweet shops in Bengal threaten to go on a strike for three consecutive days if the Centre does not lift Goods and Services Tax (GST) from sweets even after the 24-hour bandh on Monday. The sweet shop owners had been protesting since they came to know that GST will also be applicable on sweets. But their repeated pleas fell into deaf ears leaving them with no other options apart from going on a bandh and hunger strike.
The West Bengal Sweetmeat Confectioners’ Association has called for a 24-hour strike on Monday protesting against the Centre’s indifference to their pleas to lift GST from sweets. They have also called for a hunger strike for three days from August 24 to 26. They will be sitting for the hunger strike on Rani Rashmoni Avenue.
Rabindra Kumar Pal, general secretary of the association, said that it was three weeks ago when they had written to the Centre that they are going on a strike on Monday. They had also mentioned about the hunger strike against bringing sweets under GST but there was no reply in this connection.
“We will give 15 days’ time after the 24-hour bandh on Monday. We will intensify our movement if no positive decision is taken by the Centre within this time. In that case, we will again go for a strike for three consecutive days,” said Pal adding that this is the first time when the sweet shop owners are passing through such insecurity and they do not know how to survive.
He further said that there is a huge difference between sweets of Bengal and other regions of the country. “Rasogolla and sandesh are highly perishable items unlike laddu, morobba, sonpapri, peda, khowa barfi, etc. So sales tax and VAT was never imposed on sweets,” he raised the question that when fish has been exempted from GST as it is a perishable product, then why has it been made applicable for sweets.
From Saturday, posters have been put up outside sweet shops in Bengal protesting against the move of the Modi government declaring a 24-hour bandh on Monday. After observing a strike on Monday, thousands of sweet shop owners will be coming to the city to be a part of the hunger strike at Rani Rashmoni Avenue for three days from August 24.