In the wee hours of Wednesday, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) sleuths made a shocking discovery when they pounced on a family of smugglers ferrying, blood diamonds worth Rs2.12 crore, near Memco on the city’s outskirts. They also found 1.5 kg gold worth Rs50 lakh with the smugglers. This discovery couldn’t come sooner. For on Wednesday, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said curbs on gold import would incentivise smuggling of the precious metal, while he was addressing the RBI’s third mid-quarter review of monetary policy.
The four persons – including a family of three — had surprisingly used the Nepal border, ostensibly a maiden road route for the illegal transfer. Acting on specific inputs, DRI sleuths stopped a car from where they made the arrests. During the preliminary interrogation the smugglers have accepted smuggling of precious gems and metals and confessed that they do not have the mandatory KPCS certificate for the uncut stones.
To curb the trade of diamonds produced in the conflict zone of Africa, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established by the United Nations.
According to sources, Bharti Jagda and his son Dharmendra Jagda and a relative Vicky Dhadhda entered India from Nepal and were travelling to Ahmedabad by road via Lucknow, Agra and Jaipur.
“We had specific information about smuggling via road; so we had set up a watch in the city. The three arrived in a luxury bus from Jaipur and got off at Memco. Pradip Jagda picked the trio in his car from there and were proceeding towards Bapunagar, when we intercepted and arrested them,” a DRI official said.
All four were then taken to the DRI office in Paldi to check their luggage. “During interrogation and intensive search we found 10 kg of rough blood diamonds without the KPCS certificate and also 14 bars of gold weighing 1.5 kg in their possession,” official added.
“We know that the family is involved in smuggling as customs have already issued a lookout notice against Pradip and his wife Bharti. As there was a look out notice against them they were using road for their smuggling activity. We believe that they may have made at least three successful trips via Nepal to Gujarat,” the official added.
Nepal has been used by smugglers to sneak in gold and other prohibited items but using road as a means of transportation to smuggle into Gujarat has for the first time come to light.
Sources said Pradip owns a gold jewellery shop in Dubai besides one in Rajkot. The Jagdas belong to Veraval in Saurashtra. “During investigation it was found that Dharmendra, son of Pradip, had taken delivery of gold and diamonds in Dubai. From Dubai they travelled to Nepal and were travelling via road to avoid customs’ watchful eye,” DRI official said. All four on Wednesday were produced before the chief magistrate who sent them for judicial custody.