Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday asked officials to put on hold for three days the raids being conducted to stop alleged evasion of Goods and Services Tax, IANS reported.

The decision was taken after traders’ bodies in several cities across the state staged protests over the last week against the raids, alleging harassment by tax officials.

Multiple meetings were held in the last few days between delegations of traders and government officials. Vice President of traders’ body Vyapari Kalyan Board Pushpdant Jain held a meeting with Adityanath, according to Hindi daily Hindustan.

Jain said that the chief minister assured him that no action will be taken against businesspersons abiding by the law.

On Wednesday morning, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya tweeted that the state government would take action against officials if they harass businesspersons. He also said that the Bharatiya Janata Party respects the trader community and asked the Opposition parties not to politicise the matter.

Since the raids started last week, traders have staged demonstrations and shut shops in protest in major cities of the state such as Lucknow, Varanasi and Agra. Protests were also held in the cities of Gorakhpur, Basti and Chitrakoot.

Ajit Singh Bagga, the president of a representative body Varanasi Vyapar Mandal, told IANS that the raids were being used as a tool to victimise traders.

Uttar Pradesh Adarsh Vyapar Mandal President Sanjay Gupta said that the raids were unjustified and that traders should be put under investigation only on the basis of complaints.

“But the officials are carrying out raids randomly to harass the traders,” Gupta alleged. “The raids have created a fear psychosis following which many traders have closed their establishments, which is not a good sign.”