Smuggling flourishing in Bhairahawa

Published On: April 25, 2018 04:39 AM NPT By: Rekha Bhusal

BUTWAL, April 25: A large amount of fake excise duty stickers entered Nepal through Bhairahawa customs point of Rupandehi a month ago clearing several checkpoints. 
Police nabbed the vehicle carrying the fake stickers only after it reached Dhakdahi. Fake excise duty stickers worth around Rs 400,000 was seized from the vehicle. The stickers had the stamp of Inland Revenue Department.

According to police, the fake stickers, which read '50 UP 1150 ml Inland Revenue Office Liquor', were imported by Shangrila Distillery based in Mithila Municipality of Dhanusha.
Distillery owner Kusheshwor Prasad Sah of Janakpur, manager Bhawani Prasad Upreti, and production manager Kameshwor Mahato have been using forged excise duty stickers smuggled into the country, according to police personnel. While Upreti and Mahato have been charged with forgery of government seal and signature, the distillery owner Shah is at large, according to the police. 

While the case of forged stickers is yet to subside, a vehicle with raw meat that entered the country via the Bhairahawa customs point was tracked down at Chitwan by the police. Police seized 800 quintals of boneless chicken that entered the country without completing customs and quarantine process.

According to police, boneless chicken was brought into the country by making documents of green vegetables in collaboration with customs officials. The customs declaration form presented at the customs office states that the vehicle contains green vegetables.

Shree Ram Kunwar, Deputy Superintendent of Police of Armed Police Force (APF) deputed in APF Checkpoint in Danda, said that the checkpoint released the vehicle after checking the customs declaration documents. “We are not authorized to break the seal put by the customs office,” he added.

Later on April 3, police seized women clothing and accessories from Bhairahawa. It was found that the importer managed to bring the consignment into the country by paying duty for only a fraction of the imports. When police questioned the driver, they came to know that the police had managed to clear the entire consignment by paying Rs 24,000 as a bribe to customs officials.

Six days later, police raided the house of former police Sub Inspector Krishna Prasad Sharma acting on a tipoff. They found a cache of goods worth hundreds of thousands of in Sharma's home that were imported by evading customs duty. Sixty sacks of tobacco weighing 60 kilograms each, 60 units of ladies suit, 219 units of saris brought from Varanasi, 1,440 pairs of slippers, 576 units of door latches and 960 units of hinges amounting to over Rs 1.5 million were found from Sharma's home, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police Dilli Narayan Pandey, who is also the spokesperson for the District Police Office, Rupandehi. 

According to locals, the rented house is being used to store items brought into Nepal by evading taxes.  

These cases are just examples of how traders, conniving with customs officials, are evading taxes. Observers say irregularities like importers collaborating with customs officials for smuggling, tax evasion by importers and importing one commodity in the name of other are flourishing in recent months. Importers often use children, jobless youth and women as carriers for smuggling goods. 

Meanwhile, the government has deployed 80 security personnel under the command of a DSB to curb smuggling via Bhairahawa customs point.

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