June 25 , 2013
Diamantaires in the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, who have their trading offices in Antwerp, have welcomed the move by Antwerp World Diamond Centre’s (AWDC) security office and Antwerp police to launch an integrated anti-tiger kidnapping programme for diamond companies in Antwerp.
The programme, designed exclusively for diamantaires, especially Gujarati diamantaires on the radar of Italian mafia, would give a thorough understanding and help regarding the so-called tiger kidnapping. The event will take place on June 27 at Diamantclub Antwerpen, the Antwerp Diamond Club.
Sources said a tiger kidnapping, or tiger robbery, involves two separate crimes. The first crime usually involves an abduction of a person. Instead of demanding money, the captors demand that a second crime be committed on their behalf, such as a theft. The person held hostage is kept by the captors until their demands are met.
There have been a number of crimes in Antwerp where criminals have taken members of the families of diamantaires hostage and demanded that the company owner or employee go to the office and bring back diamonds or cash.
The Indian origin population in Belgium, mainly Gujarati, numbers about 14,000, of whom 5,000, belonging to 600 families, are in the diamond trade. Some years ago, Jewish traders made up 80 per cent of the business, with Indians accounting for 20 per cent. It is understood these positions have now reversed.
Diamonds are crucial to Belgium’s economy and to the gems trade in Surat and Mumbai, with which the Indian traders, mostly of Gujarati origin, have close links.
The diamond trading quarter of Antwerp is well protected but this is not always the case with the homes of the traders, though some do tend to employ private guards.
In 2010 and 2012 respectively, two diamond heists were reported in Antwerp where Gujarati diamantaires of the DTC sightholder companies-Kiran Gems and Karp Impex-were targeted by armed robbers.
In both the diamond heists, the gang members had held the family members of diamantiares hostage in the house at gunpoint and the diamantaires were asked to bring the polished diamond stock from the safe vaults and their offices. Dinesh Navadia, president, Surat Diamond Association, who is in Antwerp, said, “The diamantaires here are happy with the AWDC programme against tiger kidnapping. This will provide a sense of safety and security to the diamantaires.”
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