Salman Khan has it. So does John Abraham. Now, it seems everybody wants it. The superbike is the latest craze among those who like to ride fast and furious.
The huge demand for these bikes — which can eat up 200 kilometers in an hour and cost Rs 7-15 lakh — has also led to a thriving smuggling industry.
One such racket was unearthed in February by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Mumbai, when it seized 73 superbikes in Raigad district’s Pen town — a nondescript place known only for its handicrafts.This racket is now snowballing with the DRI investigating the registration of at least 400 such bikes at the Pen Regional Transport Office (RTO). It is probing a similar case of registration of smuggled vehicles at the Andheri RTO in Mumbai too.
The DRI has found these bikes — Honda and Suzuki brands — were imported from Singapore as spare parts to evade customs duty. Duty on a new bike is 150 per cent of its cost while the same on spare parts is just 24 per cent.
The smugglers dismantle the bikes into three to four pieces and bring them to India as spare parts. Once here, the pieces are put together and registered at local RTOs on fake entry bills. They are then sold at cheaper rates.
The DRI has information that 1,000 such bikes are plying on the streets of Mumbai, Pune and Surat.
Most customers are unaware. “On learning of the racket, 30 bike owners have come to us since March and paid the duty,” a DRI official who didn’t want to be named said, adding that others are not so honest.
At the Pen RTO, he said, some staffers were in on the fraud and charged Rs 20,000 per bike to register it.
Due to the magnitude of the racket, the Raigad case has been shifted to the Criminal Investigation Department.