Mumbai/Delhi: A nationwide strike called by 350-odd jewellers' associations to protest the Central government's new gold hallmarking rules evoked strong response on Monday, amid conflicting claims by protesting jewellers and the government over its success. One of the protesting jewellers' body – the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) -- claimed the strike received a strong response as most jewellery shops, barring big corporates, remained shut on Monday in response to a nationwide strike.
On the other hand, the government said the strike had “no impact”, while also releasing copies of letters of some jewellers' bodies which opposed the strike. Government even released photos of showrooms of Tanishq, Kalyan Jewellers and PC Jewellers that remained open on the day of strike.
The 350-odd jewellery bodies are against the government's Hallmarking Unique ID (HUID) system which they said has nothing to do with the purity of gold but is just a tracking mechanism. These jewellers, who have formed a ‘national taskforce’ for smooth implementation of hallmarking, have demanded the government to form a neutral committee to address the concerns of the stakeholders.
The GJC director, Dinesh Jain, said, “There was a very strong and overwhelming response to a nationwide strike against the HUID system. Shops were closed for a day. Big corporates in the jewellery sector never participate in such strikes. Mostly individual and family-run jewellery shops in all four zones were shut for a day,” he said. “The strike went off peacefully. We followed all Covid-19 protocols. Except for a few corporates, 90% stakeholders participated in the strike,” he said.
Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers director Aditya Pethe said, “A lot of jewellery houses including us kept the stores shut on August 23 in support of strike. We hope the government modifies the roll-out plans so that it is a win-win situation for all the parties.” For instance, in Gujarat, over 15,000 jewellers kept their businesses shut. In Ahmedabad alone, nearly 6,000 shops and showroom owners joined the strike demanding a simpler hallmarking process, claimed Jigar Soni, president of Jewellers' Association of Ahmedabad.
Similarly in Jammu, jewellers shut their businesses and staged a demonstration seeking intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Sarafa Association Jammu Province and Swarankar Sangh Adhoc Committee Jammu jointly staged the peaceful protest at Jain Bazar, the main jewellery market in the old city, raising slogans against “arbitrary implementation of HUID”.
Mandatory gold hallmarking, a purity certification of the precious metal, has come into force from June 16 in a phased manner. The government has identified 256 districts from 28 states and union territories for the phase-1 implementation.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Affairs Ministry in a statement said, “The strike called by a very small section of jewellers has had no impact.”
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