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India, B'desh discuss ways to curb silver jewellery smuggling across porous border

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Kolkata, June 27 (Ajit Weekly News) A section of jewellers in Bangladesh are making a killing by smuggling in silver jewellery from India. According to a Customs official in Bangladesh, over 2,000 kg of silver ornaments are smuggled into the country from India every year, affecting the economies of both countries.

Bangladesh is an importer of silver ornaments from countries like India, China and Vietnam. India is at the top of the list. India is a major exporter of silver jewellery and sends ornaments to China and other countries in the region.

Exporters pay duties for the consignments they send. Countries importing silver ornaments, including Bangladesh, also charge import duties from importers.

“In this way, both countries lose revenue. In Bangladesh, we also have a 5 per cent VAT on jewellery. Unscrupulous jewellers dealing in smuggled ornaments make customers pay this but do not reveal it in their records as the items they are dealing with are unaccounted for. Hence, they are making a killing both ways. Discussions have been held with India on joint operations to stop this smuggling,” another official in Bangladesh said.

Most of the silver ornaments cross the International Boundary (IB) between the two countries in south Bengal is through the North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal.

Smugglers living in the borderline villages carry across several kilograms of silver ornaments for a mere Rs 1,000. Since June 14, the South Bengal Frontier of the Border Security Force (BSF) has seized 28.146 kg of silver ornaments in five operations.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Smuggling through the zero-line villages can’t be effectively checked with the manpower the BSF has. If BSF personnel stand guard at the zero line, movement into the villages from the Indian side can’t be monitored. If this movement is monitored, the zero line is left unattended and villagers move across freely without any checks. Despite such challenges, we have succeeded in seizing silver ornaments. Several smugglers have also been apprehended but they are just couriers,” a senior BSF official of the South Bengal Frontier said.

Its not the South Bengal Frontier alone. West Bengal also shares the border with Bangladesh further north from Malda. Apart from this, states like Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram share borders with Bangladesh. Little or no information is available about silver smuggling along these borders.

–Ajit Weekly News


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