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Featured Image: Representational photo. 

By A Newsman

Kolkata, 29 November: IN a span of just three days, Customs officials have found Rs 81.62 lakh worth unclaimed smuggled gold at the N S C Bose International Airport in Kolkata.

The assistant commissioner of Customs department’s Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), Vinod Kumar Pandey, said that they suspect the involvement of a racket comprising airport and airlines staff in the ever growing gold smuggling via Kolkata airport.

In the latest instance, AIU officials found gold bars weighing 1.54 kg from a waste bin at toilet block number 8 on the ground floor arrival hall early this morning. The market value of this unclaimed gold is about Rs 39.22 lakh.

“It appears that some insider of the airport was scheduled to collect the smuggled gold from the waste bin,” Pandey said.

This comes close on the heels of Rs 42.40 lakh worth gold jewellery being found unclaimed beside the X-Ray scanner installed at the exit gate on the arrival level on 27 November. The jewellery included 40 gold chains and five gold rings that were kept in a cotton bag.

The growing number of cases of gold seizures has made Customs officials suspect that a large racket comprising the airport and airlines staff is involved in this. The suspicion got a backing on 23 November, when Kashav Nayak, a ground handling staff employed by Kolkata airport on outsourcing mode, was arrested with 2 kg gold bars worth Rs 52 lakh.

Prior to this, on 16 November, 2.5 kg gold bars worth Rs 66 lakh were seized unclaimed from the toilet of a parked IndiGo aircraft that had flown in from Bangkok.

To unearth the entire racket, AIU officials have now begun secret monitoring of some suspected airport and airlines staff in Kolkata.