The seizure of gold at the Mumbai international airport in the 2015 calendar year has dipped more than half when compared to its corresponding year.
The air intelligence unit (AIU) of the Mumbai customs seized 476.19 kilograms of gold in 2015, while 1,014 kilograms was seized in 2014.
The dip has been attributed to the government scrapping the 80/20 scheme on gold import, which had imposed a lot of restrictions on gold imports. It stated that an importer would be allowed to import gold only after he exported 20 per cent quantity of gold from his previous import.
Moreover, limited agencies were allowed to import gold, which resulted in the increase of smuggling. The government, however, scrapped the scheme in November 2014.
“After the scheme was scrapped, the number of agencies importing gold increased and hence the smuggling came down,” said a high-ranking AIU officer.
The AIU investigations revealed that places from where gold is mostly smuggled into the country are Dubai, Bangkok and Singapore apart from others such as Colombo, Muscat, Kuwait, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Madagascar, Mauritius and Nairobi. Some of these places are free ports and hence there is no scrutiny.
AIU sources stated t hat gangs continue to operate in smuggling gold. A large chunk of “carriers” are sent abroad, who smuggle gold inside the country while returning. The country produces less gold but the demand is enormous because of social and economic reasons.
The gangs resort to passenger profiling to detect cases of gold smuggling. Suspicious passengers are frisked and checked, sources added. To detect more cases of smuggling, the AIU even quizzes suspects for their purpose of visit and if there are inconclusive replies, they resort to checks.
Other factors such as how many times has the person visited the country from where he has arrived in the city and his tenure of stay is also considered. Vigil is in place during nights as well, as many smugglers try to sneak out by taking wee-hour flights. “There was a phase a few years back when gold in form of jewellery was smuggled but now gold biscuits are smuggled,” said the AIU officer.