Whenever plans of shifting firm up, the market declines, says diamond trader

A year after it was rocked, along with Opera House and Dadar, by bomb blasts, Zaveri Bazaar, the diamond hub of the city, is back on its feet, but there is latent fear in everyone’s mind.

Three near-simultaneous blasts killed 27 people and left 127 injured on July 13.

After the blast, the authorities and diamond merchants said they would move to the plush and highly secured Bharat Diamond Bourse in the Bandra Kurla Complex within a year; but a year on, only 80 major offices have shifted to the 2,500-office capacity new bourse.

“Call this superstition; whenever plans to shift there firm up, there is depression in the market. For three months now, the market is tight. There is hardly any demand; payments are not being made on time. So the local traders are afraid of shifting, thinking that it is a bad omen. The traders have been talking of relocation for the past three years. Last year, when some planned, the blasts happened,” diamond merchant Arvind Shah told The Hindu.

President of the Diamond Merchants’ Association Bharat Shah, however, looked optimistic. “The market is low right now, so people do not want to shift there as they will have to incur extra costs. But I am quite confident that by next year, at least 80 per cent offices would have shifted there,” he said. Other traders are not very sure though.

The odds and concerns about shifting there are still the same. “The place is big, but going there is a problem. Many merchants do not find commuting safe, especially when they are carrying diamonds worth crores of rupees,” Hardik Hundiya, another merchant, said.

The security at Zaveri Bazaar has improved though. There is private security as well as police presence in the area, but the merchants are clearly not very happy.

“Nothing much can be done as preventive action. We all have installed CCTV cameras. If something happens, the police will be able to trace the perpetrators, but will that stop the maniacs from doing such a ghastly thing?” Naresh Mehta, secretary of the Diamond Merchants Association, said.

Police patrols, which were conducted for a few months after the blasts, were waning, he added.

The by-lanes around the market are buzzing with business activity, but the small vendors and hawkers who sold delicious dishes at pocket-friendly costs and who characterised the Khau galli (food lane), are missing. Parking of vehicles is not allowed in two main lanes. At other places, vehicles have started re-emerging. “We can’t stop business fearing an attack. Business is as usual. The attacks haven’t dampened our spirits. But there is fear now. Also, everyone is more cautious. An unknown person is marked carefully,” Mr. Hundiya said. The pain has certainly not gone away.