China detains 21 Indians for smuggling

Consular officials to meet traders; Delhi seeks report from Beijing

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Shenzhen Customs of China had recently detained the 21 Indian traders at Shenzhen in Guandong province, southern China. They had been charged with illegal transportation of diamonds from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.

“I am aware that some Indian nationals have been taken into custody by the Chinese authorities in Shenzhen. I have asked our ambassador in Beijing, S Jaishankar, for a report on the matter. He is also in touch with our consul general in Guangzhou,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told journalists here.

A statement from the MEA said the Indian embassy in Beijing had contacted the authorities concerned in China immediately after it had come to know about the detentions.

India has sought consular access to the detained traders, in accordance with the provisions in a memorandum of understanding that New Delhi and Beijing inked in 2003.
The Chinese government agreed to allow officials of the Indian Consulate in Guangzhou to meet the detained traders on Wednesday. The government confirmed the detention of Indians in China a day after three Chinese engineers were arrested at Korba town in Chhattisgarh in connection with the crash of an under-construction chimney that killed 41 workers at the Bharat Aluminium Company Limited plant in September 2009.

The engineers were employed by China’s Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation, which was given the contract for the chimney. They were arrested after a probe blamed the accident on use of poor-quality construction material.
 Though the crash took place almost four months back, the Chhattisgarh police arrested the Chinese engineers on Monday — significantly just three days after the detentions of Indian traders in China.

According to reports in the Chinese media, customs officials in Shenzhen busted a diamond-smuggling racket last Friday and detained around 50 people, including some Indians. The racket is said to have sourced diamonds in Hong Kong and hired Indians and local carriers to smuggle them into Shenzhen before distributing them to factories, which in turn sold them in the open market.
Most of the Indian traders detained in Shenzhen hailed from Surat in Gujarat.
DH News Service

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