Malappuram: A 19-year-old female student was arrested for trying to smuggle in gold worth around Rs 1 crore.
Karippur police arrested Shahala, a native of Nekraje village in Kasaragod district, outside Kozhikode International Airport Sunday night.
Shahala, a student in Kochi, had gone to Dubai to visit her father, who runs a business there, said Karippur station house officer - inspector Shibu P.
She returned on an Air India Express flight and managed to slip past the airport scanners, and did not fit into the profiling done by Customs Department.
However, when she came out of the airport, Karippur police officers picked her up. They were waiting for her based on a tip off.
During questioning, police said she feigned ignorance of any gold smuggling racket. Officers found nothing in her baggage. But during a body search, police found three packets of gold stitched to her undergarment. The packets had 1.89 kg of 24ct gold. At today's price, it is worth Rs 1.06 crore. Police arrested and produced her before the Manjeri court.
Police Inspector Shibu said Shahala was used as a carrier by a gold smuggling racket. But residents of Nekraje are in "shock" because they know her family well. "She comes from a fairly wealthy family. Her father has been in Dubai for years," said a teacher who knew Shahala since she was a girl.
The teacher said Shahala used to come home from Kochi once in a while. "I'm in shock and pain. The girl is like a family member to me," she said.
Customs officials said they would move the court for the seized gold. "After that, we will question and prosecute her under the Customs Act," said a Customs inspector.
Customs officials cannot arrest smugglers if the contraband is worth less than Rs 50 lakh. If the seizure is worth between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore, the customs officials will arrest the carriers but can grant them bail on the surety of two landholders.
If the contraband is worth more than Rs 1 crore, the carriers would be produced before the court. In all cases, they will lose the gold.
In this case, Shahala will be prosecuted and if convicted, she will be fined.
On November 29, Customs officials in Kozhikode airport seized 1059g of gold from two Kasaragod natives, Abdul Salam and Abdul Sharif, and Rafique, a native of Malappuram.