Indian Dealer’s Death Sparks Outrage

The Indian community in Antwerp, Belgium, has expressed concern after a prominent diamond dealer died while in police custody.

Nikhil Manilal, 46, an Indian diamond trader based in Antwerp, died during a raid at his house by the Belgian tax police. Manilal, who was known to suffer a heart condition, reportedly collapsed during the raid. Local dealers charge the police did not take his appeals seriously and were slow to provide medical assistance.

News about Manilal’s death was greeted with shock in the Antwerp diamond community, where he was a well-known executive at the Beltaj N.V. diamond company, part of the Gem Star group in Mumbai, India. Leaders of the diamond and jewelry community condemned the incident, and, in an unprecedented action, the Belgian diamond business closed a few days later out of respect for Manilal.

“This is not acceptable and we demand a full investigation of the case, and those found guilty must be punished,” Sunil Prasad, secretary general of the Brussels, Belgium–based Europe India Chamber of Commerce, told the Indian media. “This is the saddest day in the history of the Indian community’s relations with Belgium. Indians are a peace-loving community, and this incident has unsettled the Indian community.”