Monday, July 31, 2017

Chandigarh's international connect strikes gold - for the wrong reasons

Chandigarh: The launch of flights abroad from the Chandigarh International Airport was much awaited and began with a lot of fanfare. But the airport is also making news for the wrong reasons with large seizures of gold being smuggled in here from the Gulf.

In the 10 months since the first international flight took off from here on September 15 last year, customs officials at the airport have seized gold valued at over Rs 90 lakh ($140,000) from inbound passengers.

Chandigarh is linked to Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via direct flights operated by Indigo Airlines and Air India, respectively.

In July itself, three incidents of gold smuggling have been reported from the airport -- the seizures worth about Rs 36 lakh.

The most startling incident was on July 10 when a man from Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra was caught smuggling 407 grams (41 tolas) of gold hidden in his rectum. The man had to be taken to the washroom to recover the gold, valued at over Rs 11 lakh.

Travellers from the airport say that security and screening for international flights needs to be beefed up.

"Even though they have a good security system at the airport, things should be made tighter with better technology and equipment. Otherwise, the airport will get a bad name and genuine passengers will be harassed," N. Soni, a trader who takes flights to Dubai from here, told IANS.

Customs and security officials on July 26 caught two people from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh who were carrying over 350 grams of gold worth nearly Rs 10 lakh, concealed under a white tape wrapped around tiffin boxes filled with biryani.
31/07/17 IANS/Business Standard