The family of a wealthy Indian diamond dealer was recently held hostage as robbers demanded millions in diamonds. Pankaj Maldar, of Antwerp, Belgium, came home March 8 to find his wife and teenage children held at gunpoint. The robbers demanded that Maldar return to his office at Karp Imex, NV, a diamond company, and return with the entire contents of his safe within the hour. They threatened to bomb the house and family if Maldar did not do as instructed during the heist.
There are approximately 14,000 Indians living in Belgium, over a third of which are involved in the diamond industry. Individuals within this Indian population fear for their safety. “People are very afraid,” said an unidentified source. The diamonds stolen during the heist are valued at between $5 and $10 million, based on conflicting reports. Also in question are the ethnicity and motive of the robbers. Some reports claim they were Italian, others Turkish. Regardless of ancestry or reason, the gang appeared to be familiar with the contents of Maldar’s safe. Representatives of the Indian community are reported to have consulted with their embassy in Belgium to address the safety issue. “We are also seeking meetings with the Justice Minister and the police commissioner,” said a community spokesman.