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Sales tax sleuths raid spare parts shops in Meerut's infamous Sotiganj market
April, 15th 2017

Several officers of sales tax department, escorted by a large contingent of police, on Thursday carried out an inspection of shops in Sotiganj market, which is infamously known as the "last destination" of vehicles stolen from Delhi and NCR region.

As soon as the inspection began, shopkeepers started pulling down the shutters. However, unlike past, there was no protest. The sales tax team checked the documents of some shops in the market.

Dhirendra Pratap, joint commissioner (enforcement) of sales tax department, said, "We did the stock-taking of two registered and as many unregistered outlets, which sell spare parts in the area. We found several discrepancies in their accounts. For instance, there was no serial number mentioned in the bill book of a shop."

It was for the first time since Aditya Nath Yogi took over the reins of Uttar Pradesh that such a raid was conducted in Sotiganj market. And, interestingly, the raiding team did not face resistance from the shopkeepers.
"Earlier, it was difficult to conduct any kind of administrative inquiry in this area. A large number of locals used to surround the officials as soon as they arrived here. We also used to get calls from influential people asking us to call off the action. But, this time, we carried out our work smoothly," Pratap added.

On several instances, city police had to seek additional deployment of force from neighboring districts to carry out raids in the market to trace stolen vehicles. The forces were met with resistance from shopkeepers, who even pelted stones.

"This time, the traders even approached us to get their firms registered. Earlier, they never showed interest in camps which we used to organize. No one used to visit the camps to get business registered," said another sales tax official.

However, shopkeepers alleged witch-hunting, saying that the department never showed interest in their business.

Speaking to TOI, a trader in Sotiganj, Imran Ahmad, said, "Like slaughterhouses, they (state administration) want to kill our business too by putting a stamp of illegality on our establishments. Several times we tried to contact the sales tax department for registration, but they never paid heed to us."

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