Extremist Outfits Behind Gold Smuggling in Kerala?

Suspicion is mounting that a good part of the proceeds from gold smuggling via Calicut Airport is going to extremist outfits operating in the state. What lends credence to the view is the death threats received by two customs officers who have been in the forefront of major gold seizures at the airport.

Both the officers, one an Assistant Commissioner and the other a Superintendent of Customs, belong to the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Air Customs at the Calicut International airport.

Their individual complaints have been forwarded to the higher ups by the Deputy Commissioner (Air Customs) S Sivaprasad. “We will ensure that police cases are filed through the SP, Malappuram. Both officers have been active in anti-smuggling operations. We also have intelligence inputs about the threats,” Sivaprasad told The Hindu.

According to the daily’s sources, the threatening groups want the two customs officers shunted out after raising charges against them such as harassing air passengers at the airport.

The sources also revealed that the issue has been taken up by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union Ministry of Finance.

A probe into a recent seizure of 3.2 kg of gold from the airport had revealed links to hawala money worth Rs 2.5 crore seized from Olavakkode railway station on December 7. Apparently this is what spooked the extremist groups.

The Air Intelligence Unit of the Calicut airport has been quite successful in grabbing contraband. They have seized gold worth Rs.106 crore in 2014 and Rs.116 crore as of December 10, 2015.

A big majority, about 80 per cent, of the cases are associated with Kasaragod, Koduvally, and Kannur.