Gold smuggling has been a thorn in the flesh of the stability of our economy since long. But, since last few decades it is linked with the country’s security as well. Because the proceeds generated from the smuggling activities are quite often spent for the anti-national and terrorist activities. It is to be remembered that Marad massacre of 2003 had alleged got financial assistance from smugglers. Obviously anti-smuggling operations, especially concerning gold, is of paramount importance. But, in Kerala, people do not pin any hope in the so-called political leaders since they are ready to ‘forget everything’ when the money talks !
T Satisan, Kochi
Gold smuggling has become a ‘cup of Tea’ in Kerala airports. When 20 kgs of gold was seized in Kochi International Airport couple of months before, people were surprised. But, thereafter several incidents took place in several airports. COFEPOSA is going to be clamped to arrest more in this connection, it is learnt. The other day, 56 Sri Lankans were taken into custody in connection with the smuggling of 12 kgs of gold. These lankans once released will not be permitted to enter the country again. For this circular will be sent to all airports and seaports. They will be fined before they leave the country.
When kilos after kilos of gold was seized, all were wondering from where all these gold is coming from. It is the raid in the offices of one of the largest chain of gold retail shops in the whole country, that slowly answers that question. The raid was conducted on the basis of the statements given by Shahbas, an important accused in the gold smuggling case, to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). Even though it was alleged that the jewelers chain had bought the smuggled gold, their management denied it. But, now reports suggests that after the arrest of their director he told the DRI officials that they had bought 10 kgs of gold from Shahbas. Shahbas is already reported to be in the custody. However jeweler’s chairman says that the arrested man is not their director, but an employee and they have not bought the smuggled gold. But, media reports says that due to the nexus among the smugglers, some prominent ministers of both union and state government, film personalities and top officials, CBI looks helpless to proceed with the enquiry impartially. Recently an Air India’s air hostess and her friend were arrested in connection with gold smuggling.
Gold smuggling has been a thorn in the flesh of the stability of our economy since long. But, since last few decades it is linked with the country’s security as well. Because the proceeds generated from the smuggling activities are quite often spent for the anti-national and terrorist activities. It is to be remembered that Marad massacre of 2003 had alleged got financial assistance from smugglers. Obviously anti-smuggling operations, especially concerning gold, is of paramount importance. But, in Kerala, people do not pin any hope in the so-called political leaders since they are ready to ‘forget everything’ when the money talks!
It is an obvious practice that the smugglers’ rackets always deploy celebrities as carriers. DRI and CBI officials believe that the women occasionally arrested are only tips of the ice berg. The global rackets enjoy political clout hence it is not a cake walk to bust it. Recently police had to arrest three Customs officials including a deputy commissioner in connection with the 20 kgs of gold smuggling through Kochi International Airport. Most arrests of the carriers occur after they are cleared by the Customs. Recently a Dubai based man participated in a interview on a channel. He used the occasion to challenge the government agencies to curb smuggling. He “declared” that they would continue the ‘business’, come what may! Because ‘they are not afraid of Customs, CBI or NIA’! It once again underlines the fact that if you are well connected and having political clout, you are safe to go to any extent with your underworld operations.
It is reported that since the Central Government has imposed heavy customs duty on gold imports, the smuggling of the yellow metal shows an upward trend. Therefore, the quantity of the gold allegedly smuggled to Kerala during the last 3 months is about 600 kgs!
After the gold, comes iron ore’s turn. Kerala industries department has cancelled the mining permission given to a Karnataka company in Chakkittapara, an environmentally fragile place in Western Ghats within Kozhikkode district. It is alleged that the permission was awarded during the CPM–led Left Democratic Front (LDF) regime. Now, BJP and Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) has come out alleging that CPM Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem was involved in granting the permission for mining. The driver of Kareem’s relative told reporters that his boss had accepted bribe in this connection. BJP leader K. Surendran had raised his allegation earlier. The reports suggests that the amount involved is Rs 5 crores. It is again reported that 30 acres of forest land was going to be given on lease for mining for 30 years. Even though Kareem and CPM’s Kozhikkode district committee have denied the allegation, people are bounds to believe that something is wrong somewhere.