Bangladesh Jewellers' Association yesterday called an indefinite strike across the country from Sunday, demanding immediate formation of a gold import policy.
Against the backdrop of confiscating 567kg of gold of Apan Jewellers, association leaders made the decision at a meeting in its Baitul Mukarram Market office.
“We will go on strike nationwide from Sunday and will not run our jewellery business until the government forms a gold import policy,” association's Vice-president Enamul Haque Khan told journalists after the meeting.
He also demanded the removal of Moinul Khan, director general of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), from his post and returning of the confiscated gold to Apan Jewellers within 48 hours.
Last Sunday, the CIID confiscated 567.54kg of gold and 7,369 pieces of diamond from five outlets of Apan Jewellers in Gulshan, Uttara, Mouchak and Shimanto Square and deposited those with Bangladesh Bank as Apan Jewellers could not produce valid documents for the ornaments.
There was no transparency regarding the gold worth about Tk 274.35 crore and diamonds worth around Tk 10 crore, CIID officials said.
According to police and customs officials, the jewellery business in Bangladesh has been going on for decades with smuggled gold.
The raids at Apan's outlets on May 14 and 15 were the first of its kind and had created concern and panic among other jewellers.
After the raids, the association called a strike for an indefinite period on May 18, but hours later they backtracked after a meeting with CIID officials.
Yesterday, association leaders also decided to submit a memorandum to the ministries of finance and commerce on June 12 and to hold a rally in the capital on June 15 to press home their demands.
Enamul alleged that a vested quarter was trying to destroy the jewellery business.
He condemned the CIID raids at Apan Jewellers, claiming that the CIID officials sealed Apan's five outlets without serving any prior notice, which left its employees in danger and uncertainty.
Local administrations in different districts are harassing the jewellery shop owners and employees, he also alleged.
Enamul claimed that jewellers could not pay their employees as they could not run their business smoothly.
The CIID officials last month went for a crackdown amid allegation that Banani double rape prime accused Ahmed Shafat, son of one of the owners of Apan Jewellers, bragged about being a gold smuggler.
Shafat also boasted about their wealth and said police would not touch them when the two girls warned that they would go to the law enforcers, according to the testimony of one of the victims.
Invited to Shafat's birthday party on March 28, the girls went to the Raintree hotel in Banani around 9:00pm. After the party, Shafat and his friend Nayem Ashraf alias Halim raped them in two rooms, alleged one of the girls who filed the case.
Shafat and Nayem confessed to raping the girls, while three other accused -- Shafat's driver Billal Hossain, bodyguard Rahmat and victims' friend Shadman Sakif -- admitted their involvement in the incident.
Asked about the 48-hour ultimatum of returning the gold, Dildar Ahmed Selim, father of Shafat and one of the owners of Apan Jewellers, said it was the statement of association leaders.
He respects the law, he added.
Meanwhile, the CIID yesterday asked customers, who earlier ordered the Apan Jewellers ornaments, to apply to the CIID's Kakrail office for their ornaments by June 13 from today.
About 29kg out of 567kg of the confiscated gold was ordered by the customers at the five outlets. A five-member committee was formed on Tuesday to look into whether the ordered gold ornaments are returnable as per the law.