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‘Pune most crucial transit point for gold smuggling’

Investigators say suspects use the city route because security at Mumbai airport is tighter

In all the recent cases, suspects arrested at the airport were going to deliver the gold to people in Mumbai.File photo In all the recent cases, suspects arrested at the airport were going to deliver the gold to people in Mumbai. File photo

At a time when gold smuggling in the country is believed to be on a significant rise, Pune is being considered to be one of the important transit points used by smugglers. In some of the cases of gold smuggling busted at the Pune International Airport, investigation of the illegal ‘carriers’ revealed that they were about to deliver the gold to the ‘receivers’ not based in Pune, but in other places, mainly in Mumbai and South India.

Investigators believe that the gold smugglers use the route via Pune as security arrangements at the Mumbai airport are better than at Pune.

It is believed that the rise in import duty on gold from zero to 10 per cent has led to a major rise in its smuggling in the past one year. Gold is mainly smuggled to India from Dubai. “Gold is available at low cost in Dubai. One can save about Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh on a purchase of one kg gold in Dubai. It is a fact that Mumbai-based smugglers are using the route via Pune. But arrests in gold smuggling cases have been made at the airports in Pune, Mumbai and other cities across India,” an officer said.

While hundreds of kilograms of gold are being smuggled to India via aerial and other routes, investigators have been able to trap very few of these illegal consignments. Also, those playing the part of ‘couriers’ are arrested and the masterminds stay at large. Investigators said racketeers are using different innovative tricks to smuggle gold.

On March 6, the Pune customs department had arrested a man at the international airport in Lohegaon. The sleuths recovered about 500 grams gold from him. The man identified as  Imtiyaz Hasan Turani (25) of Mumbai had come from Dubai and filled the ‘nil’ declaration form of the customs department. He was, however, detained over suspicion. During checks, the officials found two gold biscuits of about 250 grams each concealed in the soles of his shoes. He was then arrested under the Customs Act, 1962.

Similarly, on March 4, the customs department had nabbed Sabir Tamboli (31), a resident of Kalewadi in Pimpri-Chinchwad, at the Pune International Airport, with gold weighing 699 grams. Gopi Nath, Additional Commissioner, Customs, Pune, said: “Six gold biscuits were wrapped by white adhesive plastic tape and placed in two condoms. Each condom containing three gold biscuits was conceals by Tamboli in his rectum.”

On December 15, 2013, one Ismail Mohammed Faisal (21) of Kasargod, Kerala, was nabbed at the Pune airport over suspicion. The sleuths recovered dates from him and checks revealed that the seeds had been replaced with gold beads. The weight of these gold beads was 409 grams worth Rs 12.5 lakh.

In September 2013, the customs department had recovered 1.27 kg gold from Asan Khan Jamalludin (26) of Mumbra. He worked in a chocolate factory in Dubai and had brought gold biscuits embedded in a hot plate used for preparing food.

In all these cases, the persons arrested at the Pune airport were going to deliver the smuggled gold to people in Mumbai. On reaching Pune by flights, the suspects go to Mumbai by road.

With agency inputs

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