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PNB fraud case: Workers protest ED decision to seal Gitanjali Gems Park in Hyderabad

Gitanjali Gems is owned by Mehul Choksi, uncle of fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, the main accused in the PNB fraud.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2018 23:54 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Gitanjali Gems,PNB scam,PNB fraud
Officials of ED conducting raids in Gitanjali jewels at Harshvardhan Plaza shopping complex situated at sector four in Bokaro.(HT Photo)

Over 700 employees of the Mehul Choksi-owned Gitanjali Gems Park have been sitting on dharna in front of the unit since Monday to protest the Enforcement Directorate’s decision to seal it in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.

They have demanded that the government either reopen the unit or provide them with alternative employment.

Both Choksi and his nephew, businessman Nirav Modi, are accused of defrauding the PNB to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore. The Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the incident along with the Central Bureau of Investigation, had raided five jewellery units at the special economic zone in Raviryala village and confiscated their stocks before sealing the place.

On Monday, over 700 workers assembled in front of the sealed gems park and sat on dharna. “While poor workers are thrown on the streets for no fault of theirs, the real culprits who made big money through illegal means are enjoying their life abroad. The government should help the workers by providing them similar jobs in gems and jewellery units,” Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader SN Reddy said. “The workers will agitate until they receive justice.”

The Gitanjali Gems Park was set up on 250 acres of land allocated during the regime of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy in 2005, as part of industrial promotion efforts.

Though its original title was Rajiv Gems Park, after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, it was renamed in 2014. The park has five units: Nakshatra World Limited, Nakshatra Brans Limited, Gilli India Limited, Gitanjali India Limited and Bezel Jewellery Private Limited.

Telangana deputy commissioner of labour (Ranga Reddy region) M Pramod Reddy said the issue has come to the labour department’s notice. “We have asked the workers to give a formal representation to the labour commissioner, so it can be taken further,” he said.

Reddy, however, said the state government cannot directly intervene in the matter as the Gitanjali Gems Park is an SEZ. “For SEZs, there is a special officer to deal with workers’ issues. We shall take it up with him first, and then see what we can do to help the workers,” he said.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 21:27 IST