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Jewellers threaten hunger strike; artisans return home

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On strike for more than 40 days now, workers employed in the jewellery stores are finding it difficult to make ends meet. As most of the workers in Rajkot are from West Bengal, they are returning to their home town in search of work.

Rajkot has more than 50,000 workers who come from Hugli, Wardhman, Howrah and Midnapore districts. Because of the strike, they are not getting their daily wages and hence around 40,000 have left. Traders are accusing BJP-led Union Government for snatching their jobs.

“Since the past 42 days, jewellers are on strike in the state because of which there is no work. They are finding it difficult to survive. As many as 40,000 workers have already left for their native villages and the rest are preparing to leave if the strike continues,” Treasurer, Bangali Sonali Samaj, Mufiz was quoted by TNN as saying.

Further to the above quote, Mufiz continued “The workers are going through a difficult phase because of the Central Government’s decision to impose 1 per cent excise duty. This might affect BJP’s performance in West Bengal as workers feel that it was because of the BJP-led Government at the Centre that they were left unemployed. Many of them might also vote against BJP in West Bengal assembly polls as they are registered as voters in their native village.”

“I have been working in Rajkot since the past two decades. But because of the strike, we are running out of cash now. We generally keep gold instead of cash as emergency reserve. But we have been forced to sell gold to survive due to the strike,” Sagir Mandal, a jewellery worker from West Bengal was quoted by TNN as saying.

In Indore, the sources close to jewellery traders have said, after looking at the losses because of the strike, the bullion business is soon going to be back on track. On Monday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clearly refused to rollback excise duty. Because of which the agitation has further increased and jewellers are now resorted to hunger strike. Traders are also planning a meeting with the Delhi Government, with a hope that a decision will be taken very soon.

“We are hoping that things will return to normal by this week. We know our businesses and even the customers are also suffering due to the strike, but our demand is as per the requirement of the business,” Executive Member, MP Sarafa Association, Anil Raka was quoted by TNN as saying.

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