New Delhi: International airports across the country have been put on alert to check gold smuggling which might rise because of forthcoming festivals like Diwali and marriage season.
Customs officials have been asked to intensify measures, including minutely scanning suspect passengers and commercial consignments to check smuggling of gold, official sources said.
The officials fear that the upcoming festive season, including Diwali and marriages solemnised between November and February, will push the demand for gold in the country, giving rise to its smuggling, they said.
"The officials are maintaining strict vigil to check any attempt of gold smuggling. It will be further intensified," a senior customs official at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) said.
Customs officials are scanning passengers on flights coming from Middle East and South Asian countries to check the smuggling, he said.
Gold sales usually go high at the time of Diwali, especially on 'Dhanteras' (that comes two days before Diwali is celebrated) as people consider buying the yellow metal as good omen on this day.
There are 19 international airports in the country which include one at Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Goa and Port Blair.
Incidentally cases of gold smuggling have shot up both in the country and in particular at the IGIA.
Customs officials have seized yellow metal worth over Rs 76 crore and arrested about 100 people so far this fiscal. During 2014-15, a total of 230 people were arrested by the customs in 388 cases of gold smuggling. About 596 kgs of gold worth Rs 155 crore was seized in these cases, they said.
Whereas, in 2013-14, about 363 cases were registered in which 353 kgs gold worth Rs 92 crore was seized. A total of 123 people were arrested for smuggling, they said.
During April and August this year, the customs officials have arrested 100 people and registered 169 cases. As much as 293 kgs of gold valuing Rs 76 crore was seized in these cases, the sources said.
A total of 4,400 cases of gold smuggling were registered in the country during 2014-15. About 4,480 kgs of the precious metal valued at about Rs 1,120 crore was seized and 252 people arrested, as per official figures.
As many as 870 cases of gold smuggling were registered in 2012-13, five times less than those in 2014-15, and about 400 kgs of yellow metal worth Rs 100 crore seized....