Surat-Sharjah “Smuggling Flight” Under Scrutiny as Gold Worth Crores Seized
Rs 10 Cr gold smuggled from Surat Airport in 4 years
Surat : The lone international flight connecting Surat and Sharjah has earned a dubious reputation as the “smuggling flight” due to a disturbing trend of gold smuggling incidents.
Recent revelations under the Right to Information (RTI) application have disclosed that law enforcement agencies have seized around 20 kilograms of smuggled gold worth approximately Rs 10 crore in about 32 smuggling incidents reported at Surat Airport over the last four years.
This startling information came to light after Sanjay Ezhawa, the president of the Surat Airport Action Committee (SAAC), filed an RTI application with the Customs department at Surat Airport.
Despite the limited frequency of just three flights a week between Sharjah and Surat, a significant number of gold smuggling cases have been detected. The data reveals a concerning pattern of smuggling:
In the year 2019-20, 6799.12 grams of gold were seized.
In the year 2021-22, 282.60 grams of gold were seized.
In the year 2022-23, 8955.78 grams of gold were seized.
In the year 2023-24, up to the month of August, 4356.69 grams of gold have already been confiscated, totaling 20,394.19 grams smuggled in four years.
The estimated value of the seized gold amounts to approximately Rs. 2.45 crore in 2019-20, Rs. 14 lakh in 2021-22, Rs. 4.53 crore in 2022-23, and Rs. 2.73 crore in 2023-24 up to August, with a total worth of Rs. 9.85 crore.
Notably, no First Information Report (FIR) has been filed in any of these 41 smuggling cases over the past four years, according to the Assistant Commissioner of the Customs Department at Surat Airport. Thirteen customs officials are currently stationed at Surat Airport to work alongside local police officials.
The recent arrest of Parag Dave, an Immigration Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) accused of smuggling gold from Surat Airport, has raised suspicions about the involvement of high-ranking officials. Critics argue that a PSI-level officer cannot carry out such incidents alone, hinting at potential high-level masterminds behind these cases.
Sanjay Izawa, President of the Surat Airport Action Committee (SAAC), expressed concerns about the situation, suggesting that several officials from Surat Police and Customs may be involved in smuggling from Surat Airport. He emphasized the need for heightened attention to gold smuggling, which can negatively impact the country’s economy. Izawa stressed the importance of breaking the smuggling channels from the very beginning to prevent Surat Airport from becoming a stain on the nation’s reputation, potentially affecting the airport’s development and foreign air services.