Saturday, August 24, 2019

Keralites top drug smugglers to Gulf from India

Kochi: At a time when the state is witnessing a spurt in drug abuse cases, Keralites are also gaining notoriety for smuggling narcotics and psychotropic substances to Gulf countries. Considering the gravity of the issue, the Customs Preventive unit has decided to enhance surveillance and screening measures at airports in the state to prevent passengers from smuggling out contraband.
According to sources in the External Affairs Ministry, recently Qatar raised the issue with the Indian Ambassador about the increasing number of Indian citizens getting caught at Doha airport while attempting to smuggle in drugs, prohibited medicines and foreign currencies. A list of people caught for smuggling contraband was handed over to the Indian Government. Qatar is currently providing visa-on-arrival facility for Indian citizens.
“The list comprises details of 210 Indian citizens caught for contraband smuggling from January to July this year. Of this, 93 are from Kerala alone. If these smuggling cartels are not contained, Qatar may be forced to reconsider its visa-on-arrival facility for India,” said a source. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE also are concerned about rising drug smuggling incidents involving Indians, especially people from Kerala. The Customs Department has decided to follow up the matter seriously and engage its special units to crack down on drug smugglers.
“From now on, our dedicated units will be posted in the departure area of airports in Kerala. Officers will check baggage and quiz passengers about their purpose of travel and people who are sponsoring them. We have also written to CISF which operates baggage scanners and Immigration authority to ensure that contraband is not smuggled out from airports here,” Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said.
24/08/19 New Indian Express
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