Normal service was restored at jewellery shops on Wednesday. The three-day nationwide strike was called off late on Tuesday after jewellers decided to form a committee to negotiate with the Centre on excise duty.
Beside excise duty, jewellers said they will also discuss the issue of making PAN card mandatory for purchases above Rs 2 lakh.
“Our demands are rollback of 1% excise duty and removal of the rule that mandates PAN card for purchase of Rs 2 lakh and above. These issues will be taken up with the Centre by All India Jewellers Action Committee. We have got hints from the Centre that they are ready to negotiate. So it is time for us to suspend the strike and sort out the issues with the Central government,” Ram Avatar Verma, vice-chairman of the jewellers’ action committee, which has members from the twenty associations across the country.
The committee was formed in March. Some of its member associations had called off the strike on March 19 and decided to negotiate with the Centre. The difference in opinion among member associations had resulted in prolonged strike of 44 days in March and April.
“We cannot pressurise the Centre by closing our shops and business, so we decided to chalk out a strategy and reach a consensus among the member associations. We held a meeting in this regard in Mumbai on Tuesday and decided, together, to negotiate with the Centre. The Centre has repeatedly been hinting at negotiations but denied rollback. We will have to put up a fight strategically,” GB Sridhar, president of All India Gems and Jewellers Federation, said.
The strike in the first phase lasted for 44 days, between March 2 and April 14, after which jewellers decided to postpone the strike till April 24.
The strike affected residents as it coincided with the peak wedding season. Residents were forced to purchase jewellery from those selling ornaments secretly through contacts. The strike had affected artisans and employees engaged by the traders badly as they were without work during the period.
“We appreciate that a committee will deal with the Centre, which is adamant on the 1% excise duty. We have, meanwhile, opened our shops and normal service has been restores after several days,” Sushil Kumar Jain, district president of Bharatiya Udyog Vyapar for Noida said.