The spurt in gold smuggling after restrictions on importing gold were made more stringent is turning out be a gold rush for the Customs officials at the Mumbai International airport.
A series of successive interceptions throughout January has taken the gold haul to 57.5 kgs worth over Rs 1.58 crore, making it the largest monthly haul in the last 20 years. Authorities said after taking into account the six separate seizures yesterday, the number of gold smuggling cases has touched 77. And with two more months before the financial year comes to an end, authorities said they are likely to seize another 100 kgs in two months.
New Year’s luck
On Friday, the Customs officials intercepted six separate persons and recovered 3 kgs of gold worth Rs 68.5 lakh in one day. In the first instance, Customs officials nabbed Syed Salman Raza after he attempted to smuggle gold weighing 435 grams worth over Rs 11 lakh. Raza had arrived from a Bangkok flight.
In another recovery, Maddas Izhar Hasan, who arrived from Riyadh on an Air India flight, was caught with six gold bars weighing 700 grams, valued at Rs 17 lakh. In the third case, Customs found Syed Hadi Hussain carrying gold weighing 497 grams valued at Rs 12.50 lakh. Hussain had alighted from a Bangkok flight (9W-0067).
In the fourth interception, Safarulla Nellikunna Addad was caught wearing a belt buckle made of gold. Gold weighing 407 grams with a market value of Rs 10.3 lakh were found in his possession. He arrived on a flight (6E-62) from Dubai.
The customs officers then found two pieces of gold bars weighing 700 grams having a market value at 17,72,078 were caught from passenger Muhammad Ahmad Kattingeri. Katingeri arrived from QR-556 from Doha.
Finally the last interception of 466 gram of gold was done at 6pm when gold was found hidden in the lining of the stroller bag. The passenger had arrived on 11th January via Gulf Air from Bahrain and the bag was seized because he had 36 cartons of cigarettes worth Rs.11akhs. It was retrieved out of the warehouse on Friday on specific information and examined resulting in the gold recovery. The passenger however abandoned his bag and went away.
The custom officials have intercepted 85 kg of gold till December. However, the financial year (i.e. April 2013 to March 2014) yet has to see two more months. “The month of January has been the largest in terms of gold since the 1990s. We expect to intercept 100 kg of gold in the coming two months,” said a Custom Official.
Analysts claim that the reason behind the increase in the frequency is because the demand has not gone down but duty has gone up. International prices have fallen but prices in India remain to be the same.
Total gold on January 30 night: 3kg
Total cost: 68.5lakh