In around 30 cases of gold seizures from persons acting as “couriers” at Chandigarh International Airport since it started international flight operations in September 2016, no one has come forward to claim the yellow metal so far, Customs department and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials have said. According to the DRI more than 15 kilograms of gold have been seized this year alone.
Couriers are those who work for gold smugglers. They smuggle gold meant for a third person. Officials said gangs operating in Dubai and Bangkok entice youngsters from the region to work for them and in return the “couriers” are paid a percentage of the amount of the gold carried by them. On Tuesday, a 20-year-old Punjab man was held with seven kilograms of gold worth more than Rs 2 crore after he arrived from Dubai at Chandigarh International Airport.
A senior Customs official told Chandigarh Newsline on Wednesday that in all the cases, where gold is confiscated from the persons working as couriers, as per the process, a show cause is issued within six months. “But, no one has responded to the show cause notices. Till date, no person has come forward to claim the seized gold. Only one adjudication has been done in a 2016 case, where the gold weighed around 250 grams,” said the Customs official.
He added that in cases, where the gold is brought for personal use, but seized at airport, the owner releases it after paying a fine. “During adjudication, the authorities impose a heavy penalty for smuggling the gold as well as on the person who claims the ownership,” the official said.
“Carrying gold without declaring comes under act of smuggling. No person is coming forward because the entire racket is operated by gangs. Even if they come to claim it, they will face the law,” said a DRI official.
Mohali: 20-year-old held with gold gets judicial custody
A local court on Wednesday sent the 20-year-old man, arrested by the DRI at Chandigarh airport with gold worth Rs 2 crore, to 14 days’ judicial custody. A DRI official said that Amandeep was sent to Patiala jail. “He was produced in the court today (Wednesday) and was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody,” confirmed the official.
The seized gold, which was moulded as two clothes irons, was found inside a box in his luggage. During interrogation, he confessed to be a courier and said he was supposed to meet a person outside the Chandigarh airport on his arrival. He claimed to be a mechanic in Sharjah. (ENS)