The All Indian Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) has condemned the "harassment" of jewellers by government officials prior to the auspicious Diwali season here on Monday.
It said that several incidents have come up in different states where the police, Railway Protection Force (RPF), Income Tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) officials have carried out illegal raids on jewellers, especially small and medium players, marking a return to ‘Inspector Raaj’.
This has caused mental torture to the jewellers, who were already grappling with low sales during the festive season, the GJC said and added there have been complaints of officials indulging in nepotism and corruption.
To counter this, the organisation has launched a hashtag #GJCagainst #harassment of jewellers Twitter handles to provide small and medium jewelers a means to register case of harassment by government officials, said GJC Chairman Nitin Khandelwal in a statement.
He said in Maharashtra, jewellers from Nagpur and Bhusawal; and Itarsi and Kandwa regions of Madhya Pradesh, who buy jewelleries from the wholesale markets like Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazar have complained of harassment in trains en route to their respective destinations.
At least six raids have been carried out in Thane in the last few days, besides jewellers have also claimed harassment from the Metrology Department in Hyderabad.
On October 27, a jewellery consignment from Mumbai to Bhopal was allegedly confiscated at Itarsi at 4 a.m. despite having full documentation, the GJC said.
"The jeweller alleged clear harassment by the RPF by confiscating his goods and not releasing it even after repeated follow-ups with the GST, RPF and IT officials.
"In one case, a jeweller complained how the police tore up the delivery challans (note) and bills, and then summoned the GST officials to take action on him," said Khandelwal.
He strongly denounced the "illegal action" by the government officials on the eve of a festival, especially at a time when the gems and jewellery sector was grappling with lower than expected sale (by 10 per cent, compared to 2017), depressed economic conditions and poor consumer sentiments.
"It is very sad that even after doing a compliant and systematic business, a jeweller is treated like fraud in the eyes of the police/government.
"Due to this, there is a constant fear in the industry towards the government officials," Khandelwal pointed out.
In view of these instances of harassment, the GJC has taken to Twitter to unite and empower all jewellers across India to lodge their individual cases "to shame the corrupt officials".
The GJC is the national industry trade federation with over 400,000 members who command a workforce of over 10 million with a turnover of Rs 2.51 lakh-crore.>