Kolkata: A decision by the Border Security Force (BSF) to reward informers on gold smuggling along the South Bengal Frontier seems to have yielded results.
In the first 18 days of March, the BSF seized over 16.5 kg of gold biscuits worth more than Rs 9.5 crore along the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal (only the South Bengal Frontier). This gold was being smuggled from Bangladesh to India.
“We have told people living in the border villages to pass on any information regarding gold smuggling to the BSF’s Seema Saathi Helpline Number 14419. In addition to this, the South Bengal Frontier operates another number (9903472227) to which WhatsApp or voice messages related to gold smuggling can be sent. Those providing concrete information will receive appropriate reward money and their identities will not be disclosed. We have started receiving assistance from locals,” a senior BSF official of the Frontier said.
The South Bengal Frontier stretches from Sundarbans in the south to Malda in the north. However, the maximum seizures (5) were in the district of North 24-Parganas. The BSF seized 137 gold biscuits along the International Boundary (IB) in this district. There was only one seizure of 5 gold biscuits from Boyraghat in Murshidabad on March 16. The Border Outposts in North 24-Parganas where seizures were made are Jayantipur, Kalyani, Malida and Tarali. A large seizure of 40 gold biscuits was made on Saturday at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Petrapole (also in North 24-Parganas).
“In 2022, The South Bengal Frontier seized 113 kg of gold along the IB. If this cooperation with locals continues, we expect the figure to be higher in 2023. We are also trying to find out more about this gold smuggling racket. One possibility is that some unscrupulous businessmen are taking advantage of the difference in gold prices in India and Bangladesh. However, it could also be part of a hawala racket or payoff for narcotics. This gold may also be used for terror funding,” the official added.
On Sunday, 24K gold rate in Bangladesh was Rs 51,124 per 10 grams while in India it was Rs 60,320. This would mean an earning of over Rs 900,000 for someone managing to smuggle in one kg of gold on Sunday. No wonder, various methods are being adopted. Saturday’s haul of 4.667 kg (40 biscuits) of gold at the Petrapole ICP was made from a Bangladeshi truck driver transporting fish from Satkhira in Bangladesh to India.