Gold smugglers are a creative lot. In the months after the government tried to curb imports by imposing a 10% duty on gold coming into the country, in 2013, they disguised the yellow metal as staple pins, speakers and microwave transformers. They mixed gold filaments into cases of saffron. They stuffed it into cigarettes. They even sewed it into bras, as underwires.
Three years on, data from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence suggests that the lustre of gold may have dimmed. While Rs 1,120 crore or 4,480 kg of the metal was seized across India in 2014-2015, the past financial year yielded seizures of merely Rs 340 crore or 1,360 kg.
Determined individuals, however, keep developing ever more ingenious means to sneak their glittering stash past Customs at Indian airports.
Indian passport holders are allowed to bring in up to 1 kg of gold if they are returning after six months. But in the last 12 months alone, authorities at international airports in Delhi, Mumbai Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Goa have caught fliers from the UAE, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Thailand carrying much more.
Some of it came in via organised gangs and airline crew, the rest was stashed in the unlikeliest places by enterprising international passengers.
These are the ones that got caught. How many got away?