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Customs official nabbed for leading betel nut smuggling racket from Bangladesh

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Kolkata, April 20: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested a Customs Department official on Friday for leading a betel nut smuggling racket from Bangladesh.

A departmental inquiry is already underway against Samir Shankar, the customs superintendent, based on allegations that he received Rs 40 lakh illegal gratification every month while being posted in the GST wing for allowing betel nut-laden trucks illegally through inspection checkpoints.

The origin of the present case dates back to January 28, 2024, when the BSF apprehended two Bangladeshi trawlers in the Sundarbans area with nearly 70,000 kg of betel nuts on board. The FB Allahar Dan 271 and FB Allahar Dan 272 had entered Indian waters illegally near New Moore Island and were on their way to the Jharkhali ferry jetty in the South 24-Parganas district of West Bengal to offload the illegal cargo. The BSF nabbed the trawlers after a chase near Estuary Point and seized 1,152 sacks of betel nuts. Twenty-seven Bangladeshis were also apprehended during the operation.

During interrogation, the Bangladeshis revealed the names of four Indian smugglers — Amal Dhali, Prabhakar Mandal, Abhijit Ghosh and Raju.

“On January 30, the BSF handed over the goods and apprehended people and their mobile phones to the DRI. Thereafter, the Indian smugglers were arrested by the DRI. After analysing call details, Shankar was arrested on Friday. He is allegedly the kingpin in this case. The arrest highlights the necessity of stringent measures to uproot corruption in government departments and ensure the sanctity of law and order. The BSF remains steadfast in its mission to combat smuggling activities and uphold the rule of law along the border regions,” said A K Arya, DIG, BSF and spokesperson, South Bengal Frontier.

Ravi Gandhi, Additional Director General, Eastern Command, BSF stated that the Force is working in close coordination with sister agencies, leaving no stone unturned to nab kingpins managing smuggling rackets across the border and putting them behind bars. Forces and agencies have evolved an effective mechanism of sharing real-time information about criminals leading to successful joint operations, he added.

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