CUSTOMS officers at Pune airport seized gold worth Rs 17.87 lakh which was being allegedly smuggled into India by a passenger on a Dubai-Pune flight on Sunday. The passenger, who tried to pass off the precious metal as buttons of 48 press-button diapers, was arrested. While the customs officers have not revealed the identity of the smuggler, they said that the alleged smuggler was a Mumbai resident and was supposed to travel to Mumbai from Pune via train or roadways.
Customs officials were alerted by metal detector when the checked-in baggage of the passenger was undergoing the security procedure after he arrived in Pune from Dubai by the early morning flight. However, the personnel had a tough time finding the gold in the bag due to the novel method adopted by the alleged smuggler.
“Our attention turned to the diapers finally after checking all other potential hiding places. While the diapers come wrapped in plastic or paper wrappings, these were unpacked. Since these diapers were too many and the man was travelling alone without a baby, we smelt there was something wrong there,” said a Customs official. From 48 diapers, 240 buttons made of gold but painted with silver were recovered. The official said the gold collectively weighted 606.83 gm and was valued at Rs 17,87,114.
“The gold recovered from the passenger was seized under the belief that the same was attempted to be smuggled into India and was liable for confiscation…,” said Bharat Nawale, Deputy Commissioner (Customs).