Cigarettes worth Rs 1.46 crore seized at KIA incinerated
They were confiscated from hundreds of international flyers over several months
BENGALURU: A total of 7.3 lakh cigarette sticks, smuggled by flyers into Bengaluru from West Asia and Thailand, were mass destroyed by Bengaluru Airport Customs officials on Friday. The total worth of the cigarettes was nearly Rs 1.46 crore. The destruction was carried out all day at an incinerator at Bangalore Eco Park Pvt Ltd in Nelamangala, which has been certified by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board for the purpose.
A senior Customs official told TNIE, “The cigarettes were confiscated over months from hundreds of international flyers who tried to bring them into Kempegowda International Airport by concealing them in their baggage. We permit a maximum of 100 sticks per passenger. Anything more than the permitted number is booked under Customs Act, 1962, and seized.”
Apart from reputed branded companies, a considerable number of the sticks were fakes, the official said. “These fake products, too, are readied in some parts of West Asia and later sold in India. Since they look similar, the public is unable to differentiate and buys them,” she added.
Among the products destroyed were 49,600 cigarette sticks smuggled in recently by an elderly woman in a burqa, in two of her bags she had handed over for check-in. “She assumed that due to her age, there wouldn’t be any suspicion. We detected it during scanning,” the official said.
A high penalty is levied on those bringing in cigarettes, depending on the quantity being brought in. “Arrests can be made only if the worth of the items being smuggled is worth over Rs 50 lakh. These were smuggled in by hundreds of passengers. So no one was arrested,” she added.
The disposal was done as part of the Swachhta campaign being carried out by the Customs department from October 2 to 31. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and vigilance unit of Air Cargo Commissionerate were present during the incineration process.