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2 Jun 2018

Chinese gold haul, brought via Nathu-la

TT, Siliguri: A seizure of gold bars by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Thursday from Sevoke Road of the city has revealed a new international route of gold smuggling from China through Sikkim.

A team of DRI officials acted on a tip-off and intercepted a car carrying three residents of Maharastra to Siliguri from Sikkim. As the trio was frisked, 32 gold bars, each weighing a kilo, were found from their waist belts.

In total, the cost of gold seized from them is Rs 10.32 crore. The three were also carrying Rs 20.19 lakh in cash, DRI sources said.

"This is the first time in recent years that the gold was smuggled from China via Nathu-la in Sikkim. So far, most of the gold was smuggled through the Myanmar or Bhutan borders. This new route of smuggling has put us on alert. The information will also be shared with other security and intelligence agencies to prevent entry of smuggled gold into the country through this route," said a source.

Pravin Shamrao Kadam of Sangli, Dhanraj Sahebrao Babar of Satara and Akshay Haridas Magar of Solapur district - all in Maharastra - had collected the gold bars at Nathu-la.

"They had then hired a vehicle and reached Siliguri. Our men rounded them up at Sevoke Road and they were brought at our office with the vehicle. There, the vehicle was searched but the gold was not found. We then searched the men and found that they are carrying the gold bars in their waist belts. We are yet to know whether they had plans to smuggle the gold to some other country or to other parts of India," the source added. In recent times, this is the largest such haul of smuggled gold in a single raid.

Charges under Customs Act have been clamped against them, said Tridip Saha, the lawyer representing DRI.

"We suspect they are members of an international smuggling racket using Siliguri as a corridor," said a source.

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