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Diamond traders home after 2 years

mumbai Updated: Jan 07, 2012 02:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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It was an emotional scene at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport on Friday, when the 12 Indian diamond traders who were behind bars in China for almost two years arrived home.

Anxious relatives greeted their dear ones with hugs and tears as they stepped out of the airport around 2 am.

"Some parents started crying on seeing their children," said Hardik Hundiya, a diamond market expert, who was also present.

However, things got out of hand when some relatives attacked media persons who were taking photographs. One of them covered the lens of a TV channel camera with his hand and that led to an argument followed by a scuffle. The fracas went on for around five minutes.

Twenty two traders, mostly from Gujarat and Mumbai, had been arrested in southern China's Shenzhen city and were charged with smuggling diamonds worth 50 million yuan ($7.3 million). They were accused of sourcing diamonds illegally from Hong Kong for sale in the Chinese market.

Shenzhen, known for its diamond-processing units, is a city in China's Guangdong province close to Hong Kong. On December 7, 2011, the Shenzen Intermediate People's Court, which heard the traders' case, ordered their deportation while sentencing others to prison.

Hundiya said the Indian traders had to spend two years behind bars because their Chinese counterparts refused to take diamonds officially by paying duty, which was 4%.

However, the traders did not complain of any ill treatment by the Chinese authorities.

Ashok Shah, whose nephew Samir was one of the 12, said the place where the traders were kept was not a jail, but a detection centre. He also said the Indian embassy played an important role in getting across vegetarian food for the traders when they were in custody. "We had sent sweets and those were handed over to all (traders)."

Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Rajiv Jain said, "We are happy they have returned. We are making all efforts to bring back the remaining traders."