Jewellers divided on stir call off; shops closed in many parts

New Delhi/Mumbai: Jewellers are divided on calling off their strike against imposition of excise duty with more than half of the industry continuing with their 20-day old stir demanding rollback of the budget proposal.

Late Saturday, major associations, including All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), All India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) and Gems Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) called off strike after government's assurance that there would be no 'Inspector Raj'.

However, local associations, particularly those in Delhi- NCR, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, are against calling off the strike and want rollback of the 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery items.

Some jewellers are seeking written assurance from the government.

Meanwhile, most of jewellers have reopened their showrooms in Tamil Nadu and Pudduchery.

Opposing the withdrawal of strike, All India Sarafa Association Vice-President Surinder Kumar Jain today said the strike in the National Capital will go on for an indefinite period until the government rolls back the excise duty.

Jewellers, bullion traders and artisans are organising 'dharna' at Chandni Chowk to intensify the agitation, he said.

When contacted, GJF past president and director Bachhraj Bamalwa said: "Situation is volatile across the country. About 40 per cent of the shops are open but rest are closed."

Although major associations unanimously decided to call off their strike on Saturday, the member associations and local bodies are demanding complete roll-back, he said, adding that the shops are being forcefully closed.

Besides GJF, IBJA and GJEPC, Bamalwa said the associations from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were present in the meeting.

About 40 showrooms of PC Jewellers are open out of total 60 retail outlets.

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