It is official: Dubai and Hong Kong are the chosen destinations for those smuggling items into India.
According to Customs officials, smuggling from the above-mentioned destinations has witnessed an astounding growth of 750 per cent in one year. The figure is said to be at an all-time high.
In 2010, the Customs officials at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport handled over 300 cases related to smuggling, out of which 200 were exclusively from Dubai and Hong Kong. The remaining 50 odd cases were booked from Bangkok and Singapore. However, the figures for 2011 have shot up dramatically. Of the 1,700 cases, an estimated 1,500 have been traced to Dubai and Hong Kong.
"The Hong Kong-Dubai sector is at an all-time high. Though we are yet to make the final list of cases for 2011, the available figures show a massive increase in comparison to last year," said a senior official of Mumbai Airport Customs.
He added, "With four more months to go before the financial year ends, and December and January being the peak season, the numbers are only going to increase. Gold, diamond jewellery, memory cards, high definition cameras, mobile phones and designer bags are some of the major goods smuggled into the country."
R P Khandelwal, joint commissioner, Mumbai Airport Customs, said, "Though I don't have exact figures at hand, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok are the sectors from which maximum cases are intercepted."
Sources from within the Customs Department told MiD DAY that smugglers have employed hundreds of Indians, who act as carriers for them. Depending on the consignment, these carriers are paid anywhere from Rs 1,000 to
Rs 15,000 per trip, plus air ticket and accommodation.
Just last week, a passenger was arrested from Sahar airport for trying to smuggle gold worth Rs 6.5 lakh into the city from Dubai. The accused, Raveel Singh Grover, was intercepted while he was passing through the green channel.