Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday hit out at the Income Tax authorities for serving I-T notices to Durga Puja committees here and said the department’s statement issued in this regard is aimed at creating confusion among the people.

Her comments came after the Central Board of Direct Taxes said in a statement that media reports about issuance of Income Tax notices to Durga Puja committees in Kolkata this year were not true.

The chief minister, posting on Facebook, stated: “I have come to know just now that CBDT has issued a Press Release clarifying notices sent to Durga Puja Committees for puja tax, which is popularly known as ‘Puja Jizia Tax’.

“I would like to share with all of you that in the name of so-called Press Release, they have made certain claims which themselves prove that they are factually incorrect,” she stated.

In fact, Income Tax authorities sent notices to Puja Committees last year regarding event management including Dhaki,Purohit, small and village artisans engaged in arts and crafts working in pandals for collecting tax from them through puja committees by way of TDS, which is as good as ‘Terrible Disaster Scheme’. This is, undoubtedly a huge burden on them, Miss Banerjee claimed.

The chief minister stated: “CBDT clarification that no notices have been issued for this year makes little sense. It is only obvious that for pujas held this year, notices will only be issued next year, which is as per their scheme of tax assessment. So, the clarification itself proves that the imposition of tax very much stands. Then, why misleading?” She stated that the Press Release is a sheer distortion of facts with an aim to create confusion in the minds of local people and puja committees and perpetrate mental tension.

“This is also an attack on our culture and on our Durga Puja festival. I do not know whether this is being done knowingly or unknowingly, but it is certainly of bad taste, especially when people of all religions, caste, creed participate in our Durga Puja, which is just like a national festival. Any such taxation should be totally withdrawn and the festival should be allowed to be celebrated with its usual fervour.”

She appealed: “My humble submission and appeal to the authorities would be not to impose such tax or TDS or ‘Jizia’ tax on any puja committees or any festival.”