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Barasat/ Kolkata: The Income Tax (IT) department has sent notices to some 40-odd big-budget Durga Puja committees of Kolkata for not filing returns on their collections and expenditures.

The development has left Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee furious and, she has warned that her party and government will not keep mum even if a single Durga Puja committee is harassed.

Unfazed by this, the IT department has decided to send a similar notice to some 350 more Durga Puja committees of Kolkata.

In the notice, they are being asked to appear with documents pertaining to donations that they collected and the expenditures incurred.

There are several Durga Puja committees in Kolkata and rest of Bengal that are patronized by ruling Trinamool leaders and ministers.

Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony at Barasat for the proposed Harichand-Guruchand University at Thakurnagar in North 24-Parganas district today, the Chief Minister accused the Centre of trying to stop Durga Pujas in the future by scaring the organisers with IT raids.

“They are now sending notices to the Durga Puja committees and asking for their expenditure details for collection of income tax. Durga Pujas are not organised for profit. These are all non-profit organisations. Puja is a religious ritual ~ why income tax should be levied on this?” she asked.

Banerjee said that her government gave Rs 10,000 to each Durga Puja organisers this year “for community development” and, now the Centre is trying to extort money from them.

“Bear this in mind, if you (IT department) harass even a single Puja organiser, we will not keep quiet. I also urge all the clubs to unite and protest against the dictate,” she added.

IT department sources, on the other hand, said going by the law, Puja committees should deduct TDS while making payments for idols, craftsman, artisans, etc. and file the TDS return.

But none of the Durga Puja committees have been doing this year after year.

They said that although notices are being sent to Puja committees for not filing a return for the 2018 Durga Puja, no punitive action is planned against them at this juncture. However, from the 2019 Durga Puja, if they fail to deduct TDS and file return, action will be taken as per law.

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