CHENNAI: Lankan mission is keenly watching the episode of 5 Sri Lankan transit passengers camped at Chennai airport seeking back their 7 kg of gold allegedly seized by the Indian customs officers two weeks ago. “We are waiting to know how the Madras High Court is going to come out with a decision on the issue on Monday. We have already written to Colombo on the subject, ” a senior official at Lankan diplomatic mission here told DT Next on Friday.
Customs officials had claimed that they had recovered the gold from lavatories of the aircraft they came to Chennai from Dubai on their way to Colombo, while the Lankans claimed that the customs officers had seized the gold bars personally from them.
5 Sri Lankans had been camping at the transit area of Chennai airport since June 2, refusing to go back to their country ‘without getting their gold back’ from the customs department.
They claimed that the gold bars were seized from them when they landed in Chennai as transit passengers. They have written to higher authorities with the help of a lawyer claiming that they had declared the gold while boarding at Dubai airport and were on their way to Colombo when they had to be in Chennai as transit passengers.
Their lawyer, S Zahir Hussain, after Customs officials insisted that the gold was indeed recovered from aircraft lavatory, has approached the court with a petition that Indian customs had no jurisdiction on declared gold carried by the transit passengers landed in Chennai but bound for Colombo.
The lawyer claimed that all the 5 Lankan passengers were taken back to the aircraft by customs officers after taking away their passports and mobile phones. When questioned, my clients accepted that they are in possession of gold and showed the invoice for it. They were carrying totally 6.984 kg of declared gold together from Dubai to Colombo and they were in Chennai as transit passengers.
Another Lankan claims he faced similar experience from Chennai airport customs
In a new development, another Sri Lankan transit passenger, who had landed at Chennai airport as transit passenger, has now claimed that he too faced a similar experience on May 12 on his way to his country with 2 kg gold. According to his lawyer, he landed in the early morning on that day and his Colombo flight was scheduled in the night of the same day.
At least three teams of Customs officials at different times checked him as he waited for his flight during the period and confirmed that he was carrying gold and half an hour before the scheduled time of departure of his flight he was taken to a rest room, where he was relieved of his gold by customs officers.
He was forced to sign a document prepared by the customs officials and later forced to fly to his country without gold. He came back three days later hoping to get his gold back, but nothing happened.