Editor (Asia: South)
KOLKATA – Two lunch boxes full of gold bars were found hidden in toilet compartments of Jet Airways stationed at Kolkata airport in India on Tuesday, November 19.
The airline staff found the gold while cleaning the aircraft. The plane had arrived from Patna on a domestic flight but it generally flew between Dubai and Mumbai, which has the biggest gold market in India. According to airport official Rameshwar Meera, the gold bars were flown in from Dubai.
The discovery initially led to bomb scare when the bags were found in two separate toilets at 1 am, but the staff was amazed to find that the boxes were full of gold bars instead, each weighing 1 kg. Twelve bars were found in each box, with a total worth of £7,30,000.
While no arrest has been made so far, suspects are being questioned. Airplane staff and passengers are especially under suspicion. Airlines have warned their staff to be vigilant of their passengers’ behaviour and especially look out for those who spend unusually long time in the toilets.
Gold smuggling is a major problem in India, one of the world’s biggest importers of gold. It has especially escalated since the country raised the duty on imports of gold from 10% to 15%. Similar cases were also reported in different parts of South Asia this year. Last month, 280 gold bars were seized by the police from an aircraft at Shahjalal International Airport in Bangladesh. The plane had come to Dhaka from Dubai. Gold was also found in planes coming from Nepal, Kuwait and Hong Kong earlier this year. However, there is no clear explanation on why there has been a sudden growth in gold smuggling in the region.
Image Courtesy: Bullion Vault (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bullionvault/3591740543/sizes/o/in/photostream/)