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Diamond workers take to streets

A diamond worker was shot dead by the security guard of a cutting and polishing unit in Bhavnagar on Sunday, reports Rathin Das.
Hindustan Times | By Rathin Das, Ahmedabad
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2008 01:34 AM IST

A diamond worker was shot dead by the security guard of a cutting and polishing unit in Bhavnagar on Sunday.

The incident took place at 8.30am, when around 700 workers gathered outside the unit in the Kumudwadi area to demand higher wages. A skirmish ensued following which a watchman opened fire on the workers, killing one of them on the spot. Two others were injured.

Bhavnagar District Collector Pradeep Shah told the Hindustan Times that the situation in the city is under control and many units have worked in the afternoon session. Shah said the watchman at the Jewels Star unit opened fire after the workers allegedly thrashed him.

Workers of the diamond industry in Gujarat, estimated to be around 10 lakh, have been agitating over the past few days demanding higher wages in view of the inflation. The factory is owned by Manjubhai Chogatwala.

At least 14 workers injured in police lathicharge have been admitted to hospitals. Nearly 45 others have been discharged after first aid. The workers set ablaze 20 vehicles protesting the death of their colleague.

Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil has demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident and demanded Rs 5 lakh compensation for the kin of the deceased. The state government, Gohil said, should have promptly intervened when the diamond workers' agitation began in Surat four days ago.

Bhavnagar City has nearly 45,000 diamond workers of which around 10,000 hit the streets on Sunday as the agitation spread. Most of India's diamond-polishing companies are based in Gujarat, mainly in Surat and Bhavnagar. Of every 10 diamonds produced in the world, eight belong to India and about 80 per cent of the cut and polishing job is done at Surat. Low cost of labour in producing finished diamonds has attracted worldwide attention and has led to the growth of domestic diamond industry.

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