Authorities have seized at least 47 kilograms of gold from returnee migrant workers in the last three days from Tribhuvan International Airport.

The airport customs department had tightened vigilance after foreign returnees started importing 'raw gold', apart from the allowed jewellery. On Monday, authorities seized 21 kilograms of gold, and the next day 11 kilograms was seized, while yesterday, nearly 16 kilograms was seized. Yesterday's gold was seized from 410 travellers, the majority of whom came to the country from Malaysia, according to police.

Foreign employees have started bringing in raw gold in the form of a loosely made wire-like bracelet.

After the customs department came to know about new means of bringing in gold from foreign countries, the authorities started tightening customs offices. After the new rule, people had to pay an extra fine to bring in gold. After this measure, the authorities raised Rs 10 million tax from 13 kilograms gold.

The remaining gold is still under the protection of airport customs and will be freed in after people agree to pay customs duties.

Around a month ago, Nepal Police had busted around a dozen migrant workers who were used by racketeers to smuggle gold to Nepal from Gulf countries and Malaysia.

Police say the racketeers operating smuggling networks tempt returnee migrant workers with promise of good returns for bringing a specified amount of gold from the airport without it being seized. Not only Nepalis, but also Indian racketeers have been cashing in on the naive youths.

The returnee migrant workers used to pass the gold through the TIA and hand it over to the Indian nationals. The returnee migrant workers are paid by racketeers from the source country via wire after the consignment of gold is received by the concerned persons in Nepal.

Customs officials and police earlier used to seize an average of two kilograms of undeclared gold being smuggled into Nepal from Gulf countries every month.

An overseas returnee is not allowed to carry gold exceeding 50 grams in the form of ornament free of tax and the concerned persons should produce its invoice. Security and customs officials are on high alert to respond to newer modes of smuggling adopted by gold smugglers.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 3, 2021 of The Himalayan Times.