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Midnight gold rush at Mumbai airport

Customs officials spent a busy night at the Mumbai International Airport’s Terminal 2 on Friday, peeking into suitcases, scraping the handle of purses and even feeding bananas to passengers to recover gold that was being smuggled into Mumbai. In a span of 12 hours, the efficient officials had confiscated a huge stash of the yellow metal, estimated to be worth over Rs 65 lakh from five passengers.


Mirza Yasir Hussain, an Indian national who arrived from Bangkok, camouflaged the solid gold chains of two purses

The Air Intelligence Unit’s (AIU) first catch was Mirza Yasir Hussain, an Indian national who arrived from Bangkok and was carrying 820 gm of undeclared gold. The gold was discovered when customs officials found two women’s purses that he was carrying, to be abnormally heavy. After the officers tore open the linings of the purses with knives, they found, to their surprise, that the handles of the two purses were heavier than the rest of the bag.

After scratching the chain handles of the two purses, it was found that the chains were made of solid gold. The buckle of Hussain’s belt too was painted copper brown but was found to be of solid gold. In total, 820 gm of gold was found on him, valued at Rs 20 lakh. Hussain, however, insisted that he was unaware ofthe gold handles and was carrying the two purses on behalf of
a friend.

Two hours later, another passenger, Mohammad Ahmed who flew in from Dubai on an Indigo flight, was caught carrying five gold bars in his rectum. The gold bars weighed 580 gm and were valued at R15 lakh at current market price. Ahmed was nabbed when the metal detector kept beeping even after he had deposited all metal objects at the counter. On being questioned, he confessed he was carrying gold and had concealed them in his rectum, and surrendered.

And just as the officials were patting themselves for a good night’s work, a Gulf Air flight from Sharjah arrived at 4 am with three passengers who were carrying undeclared gold. One of the passengers had hidden gold jewellery inside a torch, another inside an LED light, the third person was carrying a car stereo with a gold bar inside it. The total gold collected from all the three men amounted to 1.1 kg and was valued at Rs 30 lakh.

“This is the first time in recent memory that we have confiscated gold from five different people on the same night. It was a joint effort from intelligence officers and baggage officers. However,as none of the five men were carrying gold worth more than Rs1 crore, we could not arrest anyone. These are bailable offences and we let them go after they paid the fine as per the law,” said APS Suri, commisioner of Customs.

What the law says
Only if a passenger carries gold more than Rs 1 crore, can he be arrested. If a passenger carries gold less than Rs 20 lakh, he is released with a penalty. When a passenger carries gold worth more than Rs 0 lakh but less than Rs 1 crore, he is kept in custody but can be freed on bail.  

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