Kamra-Hundreds of residents of Kamra city on Monday staged a protest demonstration against alleged encroachment by cantonment authorities into the union council jurisdiction and imposing property tax.

People from 14 villages of Union Council Shamasabad of Tehsil Hazro protested against Kamra Cantt authorities’ action against the local traders for refusing to pay the tax to the Cantonment Board (CB).

The Area Action Committee of UC Shamasabad comprising Vice Chairman Sheikh Babar, Amjad Baig, Dr Altaf Hussain and local representative Anees Khan declared the action illegal and called upon the relevant authorities to stop the cantonment authorities from such actions.

Dr Altaf while talking to The Nation said that as commercial activities on the G.T. Road increased, the CB while overstepping from its jurisdiction started imposing property tax on the other side of the G.T. road, which, he claimed, was under the union council, not the CB.

He said that the CB was established in 2014, however; as per the 1980 demarcation of Survey of Pakistan, the CB had no right of tax collection from the UCs.

“Already local people are in the court against this encroachment but now the CB authorities have started damaging the properties in late night hours,” alleged Dr Altaf.

Dr Altaf said that all registrations including birth, marriage and death were done in the UC but the CB wanted to collect taxes besides ‘occupying the land of pheasants and real owners’.

Amjad Baig while addressing the participants alleged that the CB authorities in connivance with local administration shifted 5,000 votes of the UC Shamasabad to areas falling under the CB jurisdiction. However, only 5 votes were cast in the first elections held in those areas, he said.

He said that as per 1975 decision when Kamra Cantt was established, the land was allocated on one side of the G.T. Road, however; the CB authorities were now encroaching properties on the other side of the road. “We gave land for establishment of the Cantonment Board at the rate of Rs160 per kanal but now our remaining land is not safe,” he added.

He said that it was fourth protest by the locals and CB authorities had started threatening the people against not paying tax to them.

Anees Khan while addressing the participants said that the CB area must be transparently demarked and conveyed to the local people to end the confusion.

Sheikh Babar vowed that the encroachment made by the CB authorities would be opposed. The villagers have decided not to pay a single penny to the cantonment authorities, he added. He said that if the encroachment continued, a massive protest will be started which will include closing of the G.T Road.