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‘Come what may, we will not budge till they roll back gold hike!’

For the first time, jewellers have made history by going on indefinite strike after closing their shops and stores for 10 days from March 17 onwards.

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‘Come what may, we will not budge till they roll back gold hike!’
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For the first time, jewellers have made history by going on indefinite strike after closing their shops and stores for 10 days from March 17 onwards. After lots of debates and discussions, the jewellers across the state and country have decided to go on strike till the 0.30% of excise duty levied for first time on jewellery, is not rolled back.

Under rationalisation measures, on March 16, Union finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee proposed to levy duty on tariff value equal to 30% of the transaction value, which stands at 0.30% of excise duty. According to jewellers, this new duty levied on them will result in wastage of time in preparing lot of documentation along with mental stress and fear of 'inspector raj' from excise department.

Even after losing Rs16,000 crore in past 10 days, Gujarat jewellers have continued the strike till the new excise duty levied on them is rolled back. "Now whatever may happen, we won't end the strike," asserted Haru Zaveri, secretary of Gujarat Jewellers Association.

Last week the jewellers wanted to close their books of accounts as the financial year 2011-12 is ending this week. "We don't care for it. We are ready to close books next month but we will not open our stores," said Zaveri.

Along with the jewellers of the country, the Gem & Jewellery Trade Council of India (GJTCI) and Ahmedabad Choksi Mahajan Association too were in Delhi on Monday to meet ministers. "We met minister of opposition party, Sushma Swaraj and spoke to her about the whole issue in details. We have sought an appointment with Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday and we are hoping that our request will be fulfiled. We will urge Union finance minister to abolish the 0.30% of excise duty and if want can add up 0.50% or even 1% as custom duty. We don't want to get into the license raj regime once again," said president of GJTCI, Shanti Patel.

Akha Trij, one of the most auspicious days for buying gold falls next month. "Come Akha Trij, Dhanteras or Pushynakshatra, our shutters will remain down," said director of AB Jewels, Manoj Soni.

Labourers losing daily wages
There are 4,800 small and big show rooms in Ahmedabad and 62,000 across Gujarat. More than 4 lakh Bengali labourers who have specialised in making jewellery are dependent on the industry as daily wagers across the state. For the past 10 days they have not got a single penny. "Our first objective is to force Centre to abolish the excise duty. We know that labourers are not earning a single penny and the jewellers too are also incurring huge losses. But if we allow the excise to be imposed on jewellery, not only the jewellers but even the labours and customers will be in a soup," said secy GJA, Haru Zaveri.

However, the industry ensures that the labourers will not lose their job. "Once the matter is solved, the 4 lakh labourers will be back to work," ensured Shanti Patel, the president of Gem & Jewellery Trade Council of India.

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