MIRPUR (AJK) - The tug of war between the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Council (AJKC) and the AJK Accountability Bureau over the jurisdiction of the Accountability Bureau's powers to nab the corrupt elements in the AJKC and its subordinate departments across the state has intensified.

The AJK Accountability Bureau have issued arrest warrants for several senior officials of the AJK Council and its subordinate Income Tax, Excise and Taxation / Inland Revenue in AJK for allegedly indulging in massive corruption and irregularities of millions of rupees through misuse of powers, the AJK AB sources revealed.

"The arrest warrants for the officials including Commissioner Income Tax, Excise & Sales Tax Qaiser Iqbal (currently on ex Pakistan leave), acting Commissioner Income Tax, Excise & Sales Tax Mirza Zulfiqar and Qaiser Majeed, Joint Secretary AJK Council, besides others were issued under section 35 of the AJK Ehtesab (Accountability) Act on the charge of becoming hurdles in the way of investigation, launched by the AJK Accountability Bureau, into the cases of massive corruption, embezzlement and misuse of powers on the part of the aforesaid senior officials", said a senior official of the AJK Accountability Bureau while talking to this scribe here on Friday. The AB official, however, did not mention the exact number of the senior officials of Income Tax and AJK Council, of whom the bureau issued the arrest warrants.

The AB official sources confirmed to this scribe that a raiding team of the AJK Accountability Bureau here on Thursday, had conducted surprise raid on the offices of the Commissioner Income Tax and Excise & Taxation Department / Inland Revenue, to recover and confiscate the required official record pertaining to the advance payment of millions of rupees in a mega contract and other irregularities. "Some of the required official record has been recovered and seized by the Accountability Bureau", the AB sources revealed.

The sources said that the Accountability Bureau was compelled to initiate the action of raiding the offices of the Commissioner Income tax after the summoned I.T department's officials did not respond to the notices, earlier served for four to five times, by the AJK Accountability Bureau, directing them to appear before the Accountability Bureau to clarify their position on the corruption charges levelled against them through a complaint lodged against them with the Accountability Bureau. "No any official of the Income Tax, Excise and Taxation Department was harassed or disgraced during surprise raid by the Accountability Bureau's team", the AB sources declared.

And at the same time, a partial strike was observed on Friday by some of the senior officials and subordinate employees of Income Tax, Excise and Sales Tax / Inland Revenue Department AJK to protest against the alleged hostile attitude of the AJK Accountability Bureau towards the department by harassing the officials of the department.

 "The protestant employees locked their offices and stated sit-in in front of the offices complex of the Income Tax department here allegedly on the call of the AJK Council", a spokesman of the striking officials told "The Express Tribune". "The strike by the employees including senior officials of the AJK Income Tax and Excise & Sales Tax was observed on the call of the AJK Council", the spokesman categorically declared.

The spokesman pointed out that the AJK Income tax / E.T / Inland Revenue is the subordinate organization of the AJK Council. It is the legal stance of the AJK Council that it (AJK Council) did not fall in the purview of the AJK Accountability Bureau. "Even then we extended full cooperation by the department to provide required information to the Accountability Bureau", the spokesman declared. "But despite the cooperation, the AJK Accountability Bureau issued arrest warrants of two serving Commissioners of the Income Tax / Excise and Taxation Department during last five days", the spokesman of I.I department said declaring "it is an ex-parte and brutal action taken by the Chairman AJK Accountability Bureau".

The spokesman of the Income Tax department asserted it was tantamount to harass the department.  The spokesman blamed that Chairman AJK Accountability bureau was intervening into the internal administrative affairs of the Income Tax E&ST department.

"The Inland Revenue Department of AJK running under the auspices of the AJK Council has decided to go on indefinite pen-down strike till the removal of the sitting Chairman of AJK Accountability Bureau from the office for his 'unlawful' steps", the spokesman of the protestant I.T and E&ST department declared demanding immediate induction of new chairman of the AJK Accountability Bureau of good and honest approach.

And at the same time, the non-gazetted employees of the AJK Income Tax, Excise & Sales Tax Department Mirpur have categorically declared their complete dissociation from the strike observed by certain senior officials and their subordinate employees of the department against the Accountability Bureau.

The interim President of the Non-gazetted Employees of the AJK Income Tax, Excise & Sales Tax Department Mirpur Mahboob Raza told reporters here Friday  that his organization has nothing to do with the strike - summoned by a tiny group of the officials of the Income tax department who are dissidents to the AJK Accountability Bureau's current campaign against the plunderers of the public money  belonging to the department.

Raza declared "It is totally unlawful strike". He continued that those officials who went on strike, had allegedly sided with  the Commissioner Income Tax AJK Qaiser Iqbal to conceal his alleged massive corruption and are now scared of the action initiated by the AJK Accountability Bureau.

"Only 20 to 25 officials out of the existing strength of over 115 / 120 local Income Tax and Sales Tax department Mirpur had joined the so called strike staged by the officials scared of the accountability process", Mahboob Raza said adding majority of them continued performing their duties and paid no heed to the strike call.

Mahboob Raza maintained that the officials, who are scared of the AJK Accountability Bureau's action including Deputy Commissioner Inland Revenue Excise and Special Assistant to Commissioner Inland Revenue Aasim Shoukat, Assistant Commissioner Inland Revenue Muhammad Ashraf and a Mirpur-based Taxation officer were compelling the subordinate staff, by force, to go on strike joining them in their 'protest' against the Accountability Bureau.

"In fact these officers were trying to use the shoulder of their subordinates to save their skin by forcing them to join the strike against the Accountability Bureau allegedly on the verbal orders of the AJK Council", Raza pointed out adding that in fact these elements wanted to hide their corruption under the bogey of the 'strike'  for getting the Chairman AJK Accountability Bureau Justice Hussain Mazher Kaleem removed from the office to conceal their corrupt means.

The Interim President Non-gazetted AJK Income Tax, Excise  & Sales Tax Department Employees Organization Mirpur demanded high level probe in to the alleged unlawful exercises of refunds and exemptions of crores of rupees conducted during the era of the incumbent Commissioner Income Tax Qaiser Iqbal  through holding audit of such transactions immediately . "This stringent action is imperative to recover the allegedly embezzled money from the plunderers for onward depositing in to the public exchequer", Mahboob Raza demanded.

"The corrupt element involved in looting the public money should be taken to task so that no any other element could dare to be involved in the corruption", the non-gazetted employees leader urged.