Lankan arrested with golden collar

A Sri Lankan national was arrested at Chennai airport yesterday with a gold chain, worth nearly 8 lakh, in his shirt collar. Last week, 55-year-old Zuraiya Mumtaz, also of Sri Lanka, was caught with 700gm of gold biscuits in her wig.

Around noon on Wednesday, police said, Sajeevan of Colombo, who had arrived by an Air India Express flight, was passing through customs. Officials checked his passport and found he had been a regular visitor to the city. The aroused their doubts.

They checked his baggage and found nothing suspicious. But, when Sajeevan appeared nervous, they detained him. One official found his shirt collar unusually large.

They asked him to remove his shirt and found that a long gold chain, weighing about 245gm, was inserted into the collar and later sewn up.

Sajeevan is the 17th Sri Lankan national arrested for gold smuggling in the last two months at Chennai airport, customs officials said adding that many from the island nation were being used as couriers to smuggle gold in. Earlier, Seguadam Mohamed Rifai, a courier, was caught and 890gm of gold hidden in an abacus, a trolley bag, a photo album and a pair of jeans seized.

Sources said that at least 40kg of gold has been recovered at Chennai airport from smugglers this year.

The increase in gold prices in the country has led to smugglers trying to bring in the yellow metal from abroad, officials said. While several attempts to smuggle gold in had been successful, a number of attempts had been thwarted with the help of informers, sources said. Officials said gold smuggling was a thriving business in the 1980s and 1990s when the Gold Control Act was in force, but it reduced drastically after economic liberalisation. Now, to avoid paying the heavy duty fee, even importers prefer bringing in gold illegally, customs officials said. (Times of India)