Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Uncannily frequent seizures of smuggled gold at Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar have stoked concerns that the airport is becoming a preferred route for gold smugglers.

Earlier today, gold biscuits weighing 1.2 kg valued at over Rs 35 lakhs were seized by the Commissionerate of Customs (Preventive) from two passengers who arrived from Dubai at the airport via Kuala Lumpur. Sources said the gold bars were recovered from their rectums.

Yesterday, three gold bars and 143 gold rings were seized from two passengers who had arrived in Bhubaneswar in an AirAsia flight from Bangkok. Senior officials informed that the two passengers, who hail from Thane in Maharashtra, had concealed the gold bars in their rectums and clothes.

Similarly on March 11, foreign currency and gold estimated to be around Rs 22.23 lakh was seized from the possession of four persons who arrived at the Biju Patnaik International Airport from Bangkok. On March 5, four gold bars that weighed over 600 grams and valued at Rs 19.12 lakhs was seized from a passenger, who arrived from Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur in an AirAsia flight.

Moreover, thirty three gold bars worth around Rs 20 lakh was also seized on November 13, 2017 from two passengers who had arrived at the city airport from Kuala Lumpur.

These incidents have posed a challenge before the Customs officials and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

As per reports, Dubai to Mumbai and Ahmadabad are popular gold smuggling routes. However, from the current seizures of gold at Bhubaneswar airport, it is believed that Gold is smuggled from Thailand to Bhubaneswar via Malaysia and also directly from Bangkok to Bhubaneswar.

"A direct flight of three hours duration from Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar is available. Malayasia is a developing country and I doubt its security system. The smugglers might be taking advantage of it or some airline staff could be involved in the crime," said retired DGP S N Tewari.

"The smugglers might be unaware of the strict customs laws prevalent here, therefore they are making such attempts," he added.

Many also believe that Bhubaneswar which became an international airport recently is being perceived as a soft target.