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04 December 2023

DSF fuels India gold rush; 100kg gold held at Indian airports

By VM Sathish & Joseph George

Jewellery outlets in Dubai have already recorded a massive boost in the sale of yellow metal since the Dubai Shopping Festival kicked off on Thursday.

Customers are flocking to retail outlets in the emirate to try their luck with the daily gold and raffle draw.

Asians, especially Indians, are major buyers of gold.

Sunny Chittilappilly, Chairman of Gold and Jewllery Group, a major partner in the DSF Gold promotion scheme said: “Gold sales in the UAE are not at all affected by the customs duty restrictions in Indian airports.”

“Even if they have to pay customs duty and take gold to India, it is profitable because there is less making charges here, the purity of gold is ensured and still there is a price difference of INR 300 per gram,” explains  Chittilappilly.

However, there are frequent reports of people being nabbed at various Indian airports for attempting to take huge quantity of gold illegally.

Customs officials in India have confiscated at least 100kg of gold in the past six months, from passengers travelling mostly from the Gulf and other South Eastern countries.

This week one kilogram each was confiscated from two passengers.

Local Indian media reports that people who carry gold illegally into India are paid a handsome sum – close to Rs1,00,000 (Dh5,906), including ticket fare.

Last month officials at Mumbai airport seized 18kg of gold and arrested three people travelling from Singapore.

In fact, the illegal business of taking huge quantities of gold to India gained momentum especially after the government increased customs duty to eight and eleven per cent.

Custom officials were quoted as saying the there are people who take gold hidden in vehicles imported into India.

Recently, four arrests were reported from Karippur International Airport, Calicut, when passengers were nabbed with 5kg of gold hidden in hot plates, electric kettle and handles of trolley bags.

An Air India Express passenger was arrested with two kilogrammes of gold, worth Rs10million. He had hidden the metal in an electric kettle.

A resident of Kannur, Kerala, was caught trying to take 600 grams of gold concealed inside the handle of his trolley bag. He was also carrying 12kg of saffron, too.

In fact, Indian media reports claim that passengers are using the services of painters, welders and technicians to hide gold smartly.

The lure for gold has even turned a few airline staff into being carriers. Recently two Air India staff, an air hostess and her friend were held by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) with kilogrammes of undeclared goods.

According to the latest DRI report, gold has surpassed narcotics as the most smuggled item into India.

Speaking to Emirates24|7, Chittilappilly said, “Even if customers pay customs duty and take gold legally, they are gaining Rs300 per gram.”

Meanwhile, 32kg gold is being offered as raffle prize for customers purchasing gold worth Dh500 during this shopping festival.

Among the early winners are two Indians who won one kilogram of gold each, according to DGJG.