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Gems lying on street?

Even as the list and statistics about those dead and injured in Wednesday’s serial blasts keep trickling in, traders in Opera House have other worries.

mumbai Updated: Jul 15, 2011 01:37 IST
Kunal Purohit

Even as the list and statistics about those dead and injured in Wednesday’s serial blasts keep trickling in, traders in Opera House have other worries.

Local diamond merchants and traders fear that with many traders in the list of casualties, packets full of jokham (diamonds, in trader parlance) that many of them were carrying may have been lost and in probability, could be lying on ground zero.

Traders explain that the timing of the incident makes this all the more possible. Prateek Patel, a trader, who has been in the business for about 5 years now, said, “After 5.30pm, a lot of traders are seen coming back to their offices with the unsold jokham. Hence, most of them carry the diamonds clandestinely in their pockets, so that it does not look suspicious. A lot of traders were injured, while many others fled from the area. Hence, while escaping, we suspect that many diamonds would have fallen on the ground.”

Insiders say that traders generally carry diamonds, irrespective of their size, in packets. “The worth of these packets can range anywhere from a few lakhs to a few crores. These packets are first taken to prospective buyers, throughout the day. Once the day ends, traders bring these packets back to their offices. That’s the time this blast occurred”, said Patel.

Another trader and Kandivali resident Pinal Patel said that the damage would be known only once the market reopens.
“Since the incident, all these offices in and around Panchratna have remained shut. Hence, right now, it’s very difficult to estimate the exact loss.”

A local trader, Kunal Mehta, whose office is situated opposite the ground zero,feared that many traders could not enter their office. “As soon as the incident happened, all of us, without keeping our diamonds in our safe vaults, just fled from the spot. As a result, most of our diamonds are still lying scattered around the office.”

Diamond merchant Hardik Hundiya said that many traders had discreetly approached the police, for help in recovering the diamonds on the road. “The cops have assured us that all the diamonds which are found on the spot will be returned to its rightful owners.”