Protesting against the Central government’s decision to impose excise duty on nonbranded jewellery and increase in the import duty on gold, the All India Jewellers Association has called a bandh and a roadblock at Jantar Mantar on Monday.
Demanding a complete rollback of the decision, jewellers said that the agitation would continue until the Ministry of Finance takes a final decision.
Jewellers in Delhi and the satellite towns are on strike ever since Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget proposals on March 16 imposed one per cent excise duty on non-branded jewellery and doubled the import duty on gold to four per cent. The government had proposed a hike in the import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum to four per cent from two per cent, after doubling the tax in January.
Traders have warned that imposition of higher levies may lead to a rise in retail gold prices by over six per cent.
On Sunday, jewellers of Karol Bagh took out a rally and courted arrest against the hike in the excise duty. More than 500 jewellers and craftsmen courted arrest. Jewellers claim that thousands of poor craftsmen engaged in the trade were starving due to the strike as most of them were daily wage earners.
In Noida, jewellers joined hands and took out a candle march in the Sector 18 market. “Our protest is for an indefinite period. The government will have to rethink its decision as the hike is against the interest of not just the jewellers but general people too,” said a trader.
In Gurgaon, popular gold and jewellery mall Gold Souk remained closed for the 16th day on Sunday in support of the nationwide protest against the budget proposals.
Haresh Soni, president, Gold Souk Mall Jewellers Association said, “If we deliver gold items to customers, we have to issue invoice and add the revised duty which we are not in favour of. That is precisely the reason why are on strike for so many days.”
“Daily protests and marches are being held by our associate jewellers in all the states,” he added.
(with inputs from Noida, Gurgaon)