83-year-old caught trying to smuggle gold worth `19L, caught by customs Munde plays the OBC card, visits Bhujbal amidst Maratha protests
The air intelligence unit (AIU) of Customs intercepted an 83-year-old man at the Mumbai international airport on Tuesday night for allegedly attempting to smuggle gold bars worth Rs19 lakh.
The AIU suspect the accused, Harjinder Singh Chhabra, may be working as a carrier for a gang operating from across the country. Chhabra was apprehended while returning from Dubai. “The passenger was followed on suspicion and he was found entering the toilet cabin near the immigration counter,” said a high-ranking AIU officer.
An AIU official said Chhabra concealed gold in a tissue box in the cabin.
“There are two possibilities. He may have had a doubt that we are following him after which he decided to abandon the gold in the toilet or this could have been the plan, with the receiver picking it up later,” said the officer.
He said Chhabra initially denied keeping the gold, which was wrapped in a black carbon paper. He, however, confessed later.
“We checked his bag and found the same black carbon paper, which was used in wrapping the gold in the toilet. After this, he agreed,” said the officer.
As the state’s women and children development minister Pankaja Munde called on an unwell and imprisoned Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal at JJ Hospital, tongues began wagging in political circles about a possible coming together of Other Backward Classes (OBC) leaders in the state.
While Munde belongs to the Vanjari community, Bhujbal hails from the ‘Mali’ community — both come under OBC. Pankaja’s visit, termed by her office as a ‘courtesy People participate in a Maratha silent protest in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
call since both families share close relations’, comes in the backdrop of ongoing Maratha silent protests that have rattled the BJP government and the OBC community. Bhujbal is under arrest over the Maharashtra Sadan scam, but was admitted to hospital recently after he complained of fever.
Six years ago, Pankaja’s father, the late Gopinath Munde and Bhujbal, both feeling sidelined by their parties, had united on various occasions to consolidate the position of OBCs in the state. Munde had even offered to work under Bhujbal, his political rival, if he took on the mantle of a national OBC leader. The occasion then was the apex court ruling that had backed reservations for OBCs in local self-government bodies.