Was extortion the only reason for the closure of Bihar’s first diamond unit?
Patna,(BiharTimes): When a large number of diamond cutting units had closed down in Surat after demonetization, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi has alleged that labour minister, Vijay Prakash’s ‘inspection’ and ‘extortion demand’ compelled one such plant in Patna to close its production last October.
The minister, however, rubbished the allegation levelled by the BJP leader though he conceded that he visited the plant as it was violating the wage rule.
According to SuMo a Surat-based diamond trader and executive director of Shrenuj & Co, Vishal Doshi, had opened a factory in Patna’s Patliputra industrial Area in May 2013 giving 150 workers from Bihar the opportunity to return home from Surat.
SuMo said the minister inspected this private firm a month before it closed down. The protocol does not allow a minister to visit or inspect a private company.
Incidentally, the Rs 600-crore unit was inaugurated by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
If the senior BJP leader is to be believed Doshi closed his business and left for Gujarat as he was unable to pay the extortion amount.
Sushil Modi has levelled charges that in order to extort huge amount of money, Vijay Prakash had personally raided the diamond trader’s factory last September, alleging the factory was violating the labour laws.
Reports said that one of the senior officials informed the chief minister's secretariat while the minister was still at the unit, and Vijay Prakash received a call from there after which he left the premises.
According to a company insider, the minister kept on demanding money, after which the company decided to close its production unit.
However, a senior official of the company did not fully agree with SuMo’s allegation though he agreed that the minister came to harass them. He said one more reason to stop production was lack of orders for diamonds.
The Patna unit was the fifth such facility of the Shrenuj & Co, which is in the jewellery business for over a century. The other four units are in South Africa, Botswana (Africa), Mumbai and Surat.