Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017

Novel note smuggling ways surprise Customs officials

The Customs stall at the 14th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas .   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

They looked like innocent little toys at first, but they were no child’s play. Hidden inside them was a large stash of demonetised notes — ₹2.25 lakh to be precise. The demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes has kept Customs officials on their toes at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), Bengaluru.

The officials at the KIA impounded a whopping ₹1.4 crore worth old notes from November 8 to December 31. All the of this undeclared or wrongly declared cash, which was being smuggled into the country, was impounded by the Customs officials at the airport.

Apart from the huge amount, it is the innovative methods of transfer that have left officials surprised. “There is a limit of ₹25,000. But though the Centre has given a window for people, including those travelling or abroad, to deposit old notes, we have found several such cases. Once they were found inserted inside a package containing mobile phones. Similarly, notes are inserted in between documents in a ‘document-only’ courier,” said Harsh Vardhan Umre, Joint Commissioner of Customs, Bengaluru Customs, Airport and ACC Commissionerate.

The government announced a three-month grace period for Indians who are abroad (from November 9 to December 30) to deposit old notes until March 31, while for NRIs there is time till June 30. The physical seizures have been far lesser, though the methods employed have been novel, as in the case of the note-stuffed toys found in December from a Sri Lankan passenger.

Not just Indian currency

It is not just demonetised Indian currency that the Customs officials are coming across. Recently, they found demonetised Venezuelan Bolivar worth 30,000 (roughly over ₹2 lakh) in a package from Venezuela to Hyderabad passing through the KIA.

Multilingual app

While 99 per cent passengers are said to be under the ‘green channel’ cargo, the Indian Customs is looking at educating the remaining one per cent on what is allowed and what isn’t through its recently launched multilingual app — Indian Customs Traveller Guide. Having seen close to 30,000 downloads so far, mostly in India, UAE and Saudi Arabia, the app, currently available in Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Tamil, is likely to see more languages being introduced, officials said. The Indian Customs have set up a stall at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to reach out to more people.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 1:12:40 AM |

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