Monday, August 21, 2017

Jewellers call off strike, hours after announcement 

  • Staff Correspondent bdnews24.com
    Published: 2017-05-18 22:25:30 BdST

bdnews24

Bangladesh Jewellers Samity has called off an indefinite strike, three hours after announcing it citing ‘harassment’ by tax detectives.

Ganga Charan Malakar, President of the association, confirmed the decision to bdnews24.com.

Leading jewellers held a meeting with Moinul Khan, Director General of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate, on Thursday night before backing down from the action programme.

Malakar told bdnews24.com after the meeting that they withdrew the strike following assurance of meeting their demands by the customs detectives.

Moinul Khan said the meeting with the jewellers' association was 'fruitful'.

Bangladesh Jewellers Samity that boasts 700 members called the strike after raids by customs detectives on an outlet of Amin Jewellers, owned by former MP Qazi Sirajul Islam, in New Market earlier in the day.

Moinul said 'a misunderstanding' occurred over the raid and it was 'settled'. 

On Wednesday, Apan Jewellers owner Dildar Ahmed, who is currently facing interrogation by the customs detectives, told reporters: “If my stores shut down, all others should follow suit.”

In the statement announcing the strike, the jewellers’ association did not mention the raid on Apan Jewellers but instead condemned the raid on Amin Jewellers and "the arrest of the company’s manager".

However, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate Commissioner (Dhaka South) Mostafizur Rahman denied the allegation of harassing anyone.

He told bdnews24.com that the customs officials went to the Amin Jewellers showroom and asked the authorities to send VAT documents.

"Some of their officials later came to our Kakrail office with the documents. We found nothing irregular in the documents. No one was harassed or arrested in the incident," he said.   

The CIID on Wednesday sent a letter to Bangladesh Bank, asking it to regularly auction gold seized in drives and ease the process of importing the precious metal.

It said the jewellers claimed they have not been able to source gold from the local market for a long time, which is causing losses to their business.

The issue has come to the fore as the CIID is investigating allegations that Apan Jewellers was involved in smuggling gold.

The allegations surfaced after a case was started against five, including Shafat Ahmed, the son of an owner of Apan Jewellers, on charges of raping two university students at a Dhaka hotel.

Five shops of the business were sealed off and over 500kg gold ornaments were 'seized' in CIID raids.