Gold bars weighing 42kg and worth Rs 15 crore were seized from a Calcutta-bound car on the Basirhat-Barasat road near Beliaghata in North 24-Parganas on Sunday morning.
Officers of the directorate of revenue intelligence intercepted the car acting on a tip-off and arrested two men, including the brother of a member of the Trinamul-controlled North 24-Parganas Zilla Parishad.
Officers said this was the second largest gold haul in the past year in the state.
The sleuths said they started zeroing in on Abdul Barik Biswas — brother of Golam Biswas, a Trinamul leader in Basirhat and karmadhaksha of Zilla Parishad — after learning that he was an “active member” of a smuggling racket.
“We had specific information that he would be heading towards Calcutta with gold smuggled from Bangladesh. We were waiting at Beliaghata and spotted the car in which Barik was travelling,” said an officer. While searching the vehicle, the police spotted a leather bag under the seat. “It was stashed with gold bars worth nearly Rs 15 crore,” the officer said.
In November, the directorate of revenue intelligence had seized 58.877kg gold from two men on National Highway 34 near Behrampore town. They were travelling towards Calcutta from North Dinajpur in a car.
The directorate as well as the customs have reported a spurt in gold smuggling over the past six months. Officials said smuggling of gold increased after import duties were hiked in August 2013.
Earlier, the import duty on gold was Rs 22,000 a kg. Now, a passenger has to pay 10 per cent of the value as customs duty and 3 per cent as cess — around Rs 3 lakh a kg.
Sources said gold bars from the UAE, Bangkok and Singapore are being smuggled into India through Bangladesh.
Insiders in Trinamul’s Basirhat unit alleged that Barik was also involved in woman trafficking and smuggling of cattle and narcotics. “He was often seen in party meetings and was close to some senior leaders of the locality. He was a major donor in the last parliament polls,” a Trinamul source said.
Barik’s brother Golam claimed he had not been in touch with his brother for several years. “Everyone knows about our bitter relationship. I have no idea about what business he was in,” said Golam.
State food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mullick, who is also observer of Trinamul’s North 24-Parganas unit, said: “The relations between the two brothers was so bitter that Barik had once tried to get Golam killed. We had submitted a memorandum to Basirhat police station against Barik,” said Mullick.
Customs officials seized 611g of gold, worth Rs 18.5 lakh, from a passenger at Calcutta airport on Sunday. Nagpur resident Nandalal Krishnani, 60, arrived on a private airline flight from Bangkok.
“Customs officials became suspicious of him when he was limping while passing through the green channel,” said an airport official. A gold bar was concealed in the heel of his left shoe. During interrogation, he allegedly said that five gold bars were hidden in his rectum. All five bars have been seized.
Police arrested a 45-year-old man for allegedly attempting to rape his 20-year-old domestic help inside his Garfa flat on Sunday evening. Police said the wife and children of Suman Ghosh, the accused, were away during the alleged crime.
A team from Baguiati police station on Sunday arrested Mohammed Shamim, 30, who runs a job consultancy firm, following a complaint by a young woman. The complainant, Sweety Nandi, alleged that Shamim had duped her of Rs 43,000.
Police said Baguiati resident Nandi had called up Shamim responding to an advertisement for a job at a share trading firm. Shamim allegedly asked her to forward her CV to an email ID. According to the complaint, Shamim had called her saying her job had been confirmed. He allegedly asked her to pay him her “first month’s salary” — which he told her was Rs 43,000 — as commission. As told by Shamim, Nandi deposited the money at the Kestopur branch of a nationalised bank. Nandi lodged a complaint after the appointment letter failed to arrive.