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Gold bars hidden in torch seized at airport

Customs officers at Calcutta airport seized gold bars hidden inside the battery chamber of a torch on Tuesday and arrested a passenger.

According to officials, the 1.5kg gold bars are worth more than Rs 32 lakh. This is the second such seizure in the past eight days, taking the amount of gold haul to over 2kg.

Perakkal Zakaria, 26, landed in Calcutta from Bangkok on Tuesday evening.

Customs officers became suspicious when they spotted a torch in one of Zakaria’s bags.

“We became suspicious after we spotted a torchlight in his bag because there has been a recent instance where a passenger tried to smuggle gold bars that were hidden inside the battery chamber of a rechargeable torch,” said a custom official.

Airport officials had arrested Ajmal Rehman Manikandi Perambu, 22, on November 4 with 1.1kg gold bars. Sources said custom department officials have been on alert since Diwali as chances of gold smuggling are high during and after the festival.

“When Zakaria was asked to light the torch we found that it was not working,” said an officer, adding that Zakaria had claimed that the batteries were in place.

The officers opened the torch and found seven gold bars. “The gold bars had been cut to the size of torch batteries and concealed inside the battery chamber.”

According to officials, the gold seized was worth over Rs 32 lakh, way above the limit of Rs 50,000 worth of gold that fliers are allowed to carry without declaring.

Drug arrest

The narcotics wing of the detective department arrested four persons, three of them from Nagaland and one from Bihar, on Wednesday with 130kg of cannabis from Howrah Bridge.

The men had just stepped out of Howrah station, having arrived in the city by Kaziranga Express, when they were picked up on the basis of a tip-off. All four were in army uniform.