KOCHI:Following the slew of high-value gold seizures made in the recent past, the Customs sleuths at the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) in Nedumbassery here were in for a real surprise as they stumbled upon an exotic Persian cat being brought into the country illegally. However, the feline was sent back to Jeddah within 24 hours while the people who brought him were allowed entry.
The owners of the cat were slapped with a Rs 5,000 fine for illegally bringing in the animal. Saudi Airlines, in which they flew in from Jeddah, was served a show cause notice in this regard.The department is now awaiting the airline’s response before taking further action.The Customs’ decision to go ahead with the cat’s deportation led to a spat between the airline authorities and the pet’s owners after the couple insisted on the airline giving them free return tickets to Jeddah to take the cat back.
“The cat was brought in illegally and did not even possess a health certificate issued by the authorities in Jeddah. Surprisingly, the airline allowed the animal on board without any documents, leading to the confusion,’’ said Sumit Kumar, Customs Commissioner, Kochi.“The couple were really emotional. However, we have to uphold law. If we had allowed it in, the bio safety norms will have been compromised,’’ he said.
Under Indian laws, import/transportation of pets is allowed only if they have been provided with a health certificate after examination by animal quarantine offices.Besides, this is allowed only through the New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports.