Jan. 6 – Twelve Indian diamond traders returned home to India around 2 a.m. on Friday morning after spending nearly two years in China fighting smuggling charges.
“We are happy that 12 diamond traders held in China returned to India late last night. We are making all efforts to bring back the remaining traders,” Gems & Jewelry Export Promotion Council Chairman Rajiv Jain told the Press Trust of India.
The 12 freed men belong to a group of 22 Indian traders from Gujarat and Mumbai who were arrested at Chinese customs in Shenzen in January 2010 and charged with smuggling diamonds worth roughly US$7.3 million into the country.
The group was accused of sourcing diamonds illegally from Hong Kong for sale in China. However, on December 7, 2011, a Chinese court in Shenzhen ordered 12 of them to be released and deported while sentencing 9 others to various prison sentences of between 3.5 and 6 years. One Indian national was released on bail with orders that he should stay in China as he was wanted in connection with an appeal petition filed by a Chinese citizen arrested in connection with the case.
This news comes shortly after two Indian traders from Mumbai were caught in a dispute with local businessmen and trapped in a hotel near the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu. Following efforts made by the Indian government, the two traders – Shyamsunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja – have been escorted by officers from the Indian consulate to nearby Shanghai.
According to the Times of India, the two Indians are expected to be in Shanghai for the next few days until they recuperate from scars of torture and ill-treatment suffered at the hands of the local businessmen.
Commenting on the incident in Yiwu, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that China values its friendship with India and always protects the legal rights of foreigners, including Indian citizens.
Hong also noted that “China is a country under the rule of law” and called on India to “positively educate” its citizens doing business in China to follow and accept the laws of the country.
“China hopes that the Indian side can positively educate and guide the country’s people doing business in China to abide by Chinese laws and regulations, practice honesty and trustworthiness, and operate legally,” Hong said.