Men preferred to machines to check smuggling at BIA

Men preferred to machines to check smuggling at BIA

The City is slowly becoming a hub of smuggling, especially through the airport route, forcing officials of Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) and the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to effect some changes in the security system.

Goods that were earlier being smuggled out of other routes and airports in South India, including protected animals from the waters of the east coast, are now being stealthily whisked out of the BIA.

Having intercepted many such culprits in the past year, the Customs department has advised BIAL authorities to convert their departure checking systems from automated to manual, since automated systems do not detect live goods like sea cucumber or tortoises.

A well-placed source in the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Customs told Deccan Herald: “About 70 per cent of the checking in the departure section was automated. Now, we have converted that to 40 per cent and 60 per cent is manual. We feel that this will help us curb outward movement of contraband from the City.”

The customs is also in constant touch with the CISF and BIAL officials and several meetings have been held between the authorities.

“The BIAL officials have co-operated to the fullest. We have also briefed CISF personnel and airport officials to look for certain goods in particular when manual checking is done. We will also see to it that some of our officials are present at these counters when we have concrete intelligence,” the source said.

The AIU seized about 483 live star tortoises being smuggled out of the country by an Indian national — Mudhar Maidheem Nahur Meeran — on May 7. The officials stopped Meeran at the BIA based on credible information. It is to be noted that Meeran has a history of smuggling, but this was the first time he was caught.

Similarly, the AIU had arrested Sri Lankan father and son duo –– Mohammed Rafeek Mohideen and Mohammed Rafad Mohammed Rafeek –– at BIA when a consignment of sea cucumbers was in the process of being smuggled out to Singapore in December last.

Both these contrabands are protected under the Customs Act, 1962, (read with Wildlife Protection Act, 1972). Even Mohammed Rafad was a habitual offender. Customs officials said he was also booked by officials in Chennai for smuggling sea horses in August 2010, and the matter is sub judice in Chennai.

Also, a consignment of 31,520 micro SD 2 GB memory cards were seized while they were being smuggled to Delhi from Bangalore by Rosy Bhatia in January this year.

Officials said smugglers are beginning to use Bangalore as the transit point as other airports in South India, which have already been recognised as smuggling points, have become strict.

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