Seizures fail to curb gold smuggling

Kathmandu, July 18

Though police are eyeing several angles to control gold smuggling, racketeers continue to pass the precious yellow metal through Tribhuvan International Airport in small consignments.

Security personnel at the TIA arrested three Indian nationals, including Faizan Khan (passport number M4164834) with 559.60 grams of gold from TIA today. They had arrived in Kathmandu from UAE.

Officials said the trio were found putting two small gold biscuits each in their mouth to outsmart the security agency. It is a new modus operandi adopted by the racketeers.

Concealing gold in the rectum, battery box, laptop, baggage, air-filter of vehicle, cargo trucks and inner sole of shoes were common in the past. Police arrested an Indian national with 132 grams of gold he was concealing in a handbag yesterday.

Mohammad Azam (passport number N9383756), who had arrived in Kathmandu from Sharjah of UAE on an Air Arabia flight yesterday, managed to pass unchecked. Based on a tip-off, police arrested him from the parking area of TIA and seized the contraband.

In yet another case, police arrested Raiz Ahamad (passport number K33327721), another Indian national, with 116 grams of gold he smuggled into Nepal from UAE yesterday. On Monday, Ram Sugarat Yadav, 50, of Dhanusha and Palden Lama, 32, of Kavre were held with 199.5 grams of gold from Tilganga. The gold was smuggled into Kathmandu by using returnee Nepali migrant workers in the Gulf.

Some migrant workers returning to Nepal are being used as gold carriers, who are promised ‘good’ wage. The migrant workers are paid by the racketeers from the Gulf via wire after the consignment of gold is received by the concerned persons in Nepal. As racketeers make a profit of around Rs 7,000 per tola gold, they have been luring gullible migrant workers into carrying the precious metal in small consignments, officials said.

On July 5, two Indian nationals were arrested with 1.6 kg gold from TIA. Cases of gold smuggling had gone down after the special probe panel led by Ishwar Prasad Paudel, joint secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, formed to investigate the March 2 murder of Sanam Shakya and disappearance of 33 kilograms of smuggled gold, arrested over 33 alleged smugglers and filed charge-sheet against 75 persons in Morang District Court in May. After a brief lull, gold smugglers have again started cashing in on the poor security system to supply precious yellow metal to Nepal.

Police officials admitted that gold smugglers were on the prowl again and said special vigilance had been maintained. Nepal Police has seized at least 137 kg gold in the past 10 months. Most of the smuggled gold enters Nepal from Gulf countries through the TIA, and Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung points via Tibet of China.