Six kg of gold bars were seized and two persons arrested from Nathula, the pass in Sikkim through which land trade is conducted between India and China since 2006. Acting on a tip-off, custom officials with the help of Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Sikkim Police intercepted two traders and recovered the six gold bars on Monday.
The two traders — Nim Lamu Sherpa (29) and Dhasang Bhutia Lachungpa (45) — hold border trade passes that are mandatory for conducting trade at Nathula with China. The famous silk route, also known as Nathula trade route, with China was reopened in 2006 after 44 years. It is located at an altitude of 14,440 ft.
“The gold was being smuggled from China and it has a market value of approximately Rs 1.56 crore,” said KT Lama, the superintendent of Serethang land custom station near Nathula. Talking to Hindustan Times, Lama said Sherpa was carrying five gold bars weighing a kg each and Lachungpa was carrying a gold bar of the same weight. During interrogation, they confessed that Chinese traders gave them the gold bars in lieu of money they owed to them for two years. But the officials were not buying the theory.
“The Chinese traders, who can give gold bars, can always pay the money back to Sikkim traders,” said a Sikkim police official. Nathula border trade remains open from May to November-end every year since. Approximately 500 Sikkimese and 300 Chinese traders are engaged in the trade through Nathula.