November 30: Airport authorities at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) have stepped up security checking of passengers returning from abroad on suspicion of gold smuggling.
Passengers coming to Nepal especially from Dubai, Qatar and Malaysia are being strictly checked by the airport customs. After the checkpoints were tightened, the crowd at the airport has also increased since Monday.
According to Mahesh Bhattarai, chief of the airport customs office, monitoring of passengers returning from these countries has been intensified on suspicion that raw gold is being smuggled through returning passengers wearing bangles. He said the passenger checking has been tightened on the suspicion that the facility provided to the passengers has been misused.
Bhattarai claimed that the security has been tightened for those bringing gold against the rule and making them pay the revenue as the risk of smugglers sending gold with the Nepalis returning from foreign employment has increased.
According to the rule, passengers who bring up to 50 grams of gold as jewelry do not have to pay any revenue. However, passengers who bring up to 200 grams of gold as jewelry will have to pay revenue.
Similarly, Bhattarai said that it has been made mandatory to pay revenue if 50 grams or more of raw gold is imported under any pretext.
According to the customs office, screening of passengers coming from Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Malaysia, who may bring gold illegally, has become a high priority.
The Department of Customs claimed that illegal gold is being smuggled into Nepal through passengers returning from abroad for foreign employment and other work. The department had published a notice on Sunday stating that gold was being hidden in flashlights, irons, mixers, radios, speakers, water pumps among others without the knowledge of those coming to Nepal from abroad.
Punya Bikram Khadka, director of the Department of Customs, said that the unsuspecting passengers are requested to deliver such goods to their relatives by the smugglers. Khadka urged the passengers not to carry the goods given by any acquaintance or stranger unless it is ensured that illegal items are not hidden.
According to him, the passengers were unaware about the laws and that gold was being smuggled on the items they were given. The passengers informed that unknown persons also requested them to take such items. Especially gold and gold jewelry, mobile phones, laptops and alcoholic beverages are entering Nepal in large quantities in such ways.