Passengers coming from or via Dubai, especially those wearing or carrying jewellery, will be under special watch at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
After two cases of gold smuggling were reported in the past three days — and that too within a few days of the government increasing duty on gold import — the customs department has asked its staff to keep a surveillance on passengers coming from Gulf areas, especially Dubai.
Since passengers tend to wear jewellery to clear the customs check, officials have decided to check such people too. The cap on gold jewellery worn by female passengers was recently increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh and for male from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.
Last year, as many as 20 passengers were stopped and fined — a few were even arrested — for carrying gold jewellery without declaring it. The number is expected to increase this year.
“Duty on gold was recently increased from 6% to 8%, so we are expecting an increase in cases of smuggling. Though we are short of staff, we are trying to scan suspected smugglers,” said a senior customs official.
Passengers who visited Dubai on more than one occasion in the recent past will be on the radar. “We will shortlist passengers who visited Dubai regularly for a short period and frisk them. Scanners have been placed in the arrival hall. It is not possible to frisk every passenger so profiling is important,” the official said.
Non-resident Indians (NRIs) will be the most affected as they often carry jewellery to attend wedding ceremonies. Though it is not considered smuggling, custom officials are bound to stop them.
Such passengers can even be arrested for green channel violation as they cross the customs without declaring the gold, officials said.
On Sunday, customs officials arrested a passenger who was trying to smuggle in gold in form of stapler pins. The same day, another passenger was found with gold jewellery around his legs; 1.9 kgs of gold jewellery was recovered from him.
In all, gold jewellery worth Rs 70 lakh was recovered in 24 hours.