A section of agitating jewellers today called off their 21-day strike after an assurance from finance minister Pranab Mukherjee that the government will consider their demand for rollback of excise duty on unbranded jewellery.
"We have decided to suspend the strike till May 10," All India Sarafa Association general secretary Surendra Jain said.
Karol Bagh Jewellers Association president Vijay Khanna also said that strike has been called off.
Some of traders who met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the morning and later Mukherjee, said the finance minister has assured them that their grievance with regard to levy of 1% excise duty on unbranded jewellery would be addressed.
However, since the proposal is a part of the Finance Bill pending in Parliament, "there is a protocol to be followed," a trader quoted Mukherjee as saying. The Finance Bill is expected to be taken up for consideration early May.
Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said the party has asked the government to consider jewellers' demand sympathetically.
But, the Bombay Bullion Association president Prithviraj Kothari said, "We and other associations will meet tomorrow or day-after to decide whether to continue strike or open our shops."
Bombay-based All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation also said that they would decide on the next course of action after consulting 153 affiliated associations.
The bullion traders have been agitating across the country against the proposed excise levy, since March 17 after presentation of the Budget on the previous day. Traders are estimated to have lost Rs 20,000 crore.
Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) chairman S K Goel said that Mukherjee assured traders that he would address their concerns at the time of consideration of the Finance Bill 2012 in Parliament and "associations have agreed to withdraw the strike".
"We will decide on calling off strike...industry lost nearly Rs 20,000 crore due to this strike and the government lost nearly Rs 1,200 crore (in revenue)," All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa said after meeting with the finance minister.