Despite stringent measures, no let up in gold smuggling through Kathmandu airportIn the past one week alone, police have already arrested five people at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Frequent seizures of contraband gold and rising number of arrests at the Tribhuvan International Airport in recent days has shown that despite stringent measures by police officials, smuggling of the precious yellow metal continues unabated.
On January 5, police arrested Kijakethil Naushad, an Indian national, during security at the arrival terminal. Naushad had flown into Kathmandu from Dubai, carrying half a kg of gold. “He had disguised the gold in the form of small capsules to get it past security,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Sahakul Thapa, chief at the Metropolitan Crime Division. “Naushad was sent to the customs office at Tribhuvan International Airport for further action.”
Similarly, on January 3, the Airport Security Police, in coordination with Metropolitan Crime Division, arrested two Indian nationals for smuggling 2 kgm of undeclared gold hidden in their rectums. The arrestees were Bharat Suresh Lal, 31, and Navin Gopi Chand, 39. Both of them were coming into Nepal from Dubai on an Air Arabia flight.
Lal’s and Chand’s behaviour at the arrival gate aroused suspicion, which led to their arrest, said police. “They were walking strangely and upon interrogation, we found out that they had hidden semi-liquid gold in their rectums,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Ram Tripal Shah, chief of Airport Security Police. “They were using some chemical in the gold so that they could get past the metal detector in the arrival area. They were later handed to Airport Custom Department for further action,” he said.
In yet another smuggling case, Airport Security Police on January 2, arrested two Indian nationals with 1.6 kg undeclared gold. The arrestees were identified as Mohammad Kashif, 39, and Mohd Mushrafeen, 40. Kashif had arrived to Kathmandu via Nepal Airlines from Dubai, while Mushrafeen was here from Delhi on an Indigo Air flight. During security check, Kashif was arrested with 738-gm gold, and Mushrafree with 268-gram undeclared gold.
“The arrestees were sent to the customs office for further investigation,” SSP Shah.
In the past one week alone, police have already arrested five people at the Tribhuvan International Airport. “The arrests were possible because of our tightened security. As many as 300 police officials have been mobilised in the airport for security reasons,” said Shah to the Post.
According to data provided by Nepal Police, they have seized over 180 kg gold in the past two fiscal years 2017/18 and 2018/19. “Most of the arrestees were found to be from impoverished backgrounds. The suppliers entice these people to smuggle their gold by paying them a small fee, which is anywhere between Rs5,000 to 15,000. The pay normally depends upon the weight of the gold,” said a police official at the airport on the condition of anonymity.
“The gold, however, is not sold here. Nepal is just a transit point. The gold is later sent to India through the border via road, as the security area is not as tight,” he added.
“Upon interrogation, we found out that most of the smugglers are not professionals,” said another investigative officer at the airport, on the condition of anonymity, as investigating officers are not allowed to talk to the media. “The smugglers did not have any idea about the whole plan. They were just ordered to deliver the item to a specific person, and they were on the way to do just that.”