Monday, February 12, 2018

Customs sleuths find gold worth Rs 22 lakh on cousins

Pune: Two cousin sisters arriving from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on different flights on Wednesday landed in the customs net at the Pune airport with Rs 21.76-lakh gold and saffron worth Rs 1lakh.
Sheikh Nikhat Zainuddin and Romana Zubair Sheikh, both from Mumbai, had left for the UAE on February 2. They were carrying the gold, weighing 699.84g, in the form of bangles that had a hard and colourful plastic cover.
“Nikhat reached Pune from Abu Dhabi on a Jet Airways flight (9W-513) around 3:30am. Romana arrived from Dubai on a SpiceJet flight (SG-52) around an hour later. It takes almost an hour for the passengers to get their immigration and customs checks done. While Nikhat was undergoing the checks, Romana had reached the customs check counter. They were arrested almost simultaneously,” , deputy commissioner (Pune international airport) Bharat Nawale said.
“The duo taking two flights seems to be a new modus operandi to evade the customs authorities. We didn’t have any prior tip-off about them. They were caught due to suspicion and strict checking,” he told TOI.
The officer said the customs authorities found eight bangles, four on each of them. “The bangles were made in a way that they resembled the ones made in Jaipur. Such bangles are popular among women for the bright colours and designs. The seized bangles had a plastic cover on them and the two women had kept those covered with their clothing,” Nawale said.
Customs officials said the duo had gone to Dubai with job offers. “It seems that they had no clue that they were smuggling gold with them. Both their check-in bags looked almost identical with similar objects inside — gifts, dry fruits, chocolates.”
When the bags were thoroughly checked and scanned, 1kg of saffron was found. Women officers were asked to frisk them, They found that the weight of their bangles was unusually more. On suspicion, the plastic cover of the bangles was removed and the gold was out in the open. “All the bangles are made of 24 carat gold,” Nawale said.
13/02/18 Joy Sengupta/Times of India