Imphal: High import duties coupled with an increasing gap in gold prices between India and Myanmar have led to an upsurge in smuggling of the yellow metal across the international border, a report compiled by anti-smuggling unit of Imphal customs division has said.
Manipur shares a 398-km-long porous international border with the neighbouring country.
An official of the customs division feels facilitating “free movement” of citizens for a stipulated period from Manipur’s border town of Moreh to adjacent Namphalong market in Myanmar has made the conflict-ridden state “more prone to illicit trafficking of contraband gold”.
India and Myanmar border have a Free Movement Regime which allows people living along the border to travel 16km across the boundary without visa restrictions. “This unhindered movement across the border and lure for easy money have made Manipur a soft target for smugglers,” the official added. Last year, the anti-smuggling unit report stated, a whopping recovery of 137.4 kg gold, worth around `40 crore, was made in Manipur alone.
The recovery from the entire northeast region amounted to 267.2 kg of gold, worth Rs 84.12 crores.
In 2016, the customs division had seized 16.15 kg gold, valued at `10 crore. “The report suggests that Manipur accounts for 45 per cent of the total contraband gold recovered from the region last year. The seized gold often finds its way to the state and other parts of the country as it has no markings to indicate the place of origin,” the customs official said.
As of September this year, 42 cases have been registered and contraband gold worth Rs 12 crore recovered, R.K. Darendrajit, Assistant Commissioner, Imphal Customs Division, said.
In November, last year, an individual was apprehended from Lokchao area in Tengnoupal district with 26.6 kg gold....