Chennai: Customs busts illegal agarbatti import racket, 2 held

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], July 30 (ANI): Customs officials on Wednesday arrested two men in Chennai for allegedly smuggling incense sticks (agarbatti) from Vietnam.

July 30, 2020

National

3 min

zeenews

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], July 30 (ANI): Customs officials on Wednesday arrested two men in Chennai for allegedly smuggling incense sticks (agarbatti) from Vietnam.
The officials also seized 161.94 MT of incense sticks and 68.36 MT of incense sticks powder which were found concealed in containers imported by Indian Agarbatti Manufacturers, Bangalore. This is one of the biggest seizures of restricted items in recent times at the Chennai port, according to a press release.
“The accused have been identified as Bharat H. Shah and his son, Ronik Shah. The importer had declared to the Customs that these containers contained Joss powder and Premix powder for making incense sticks. Joss powder is normally chargeable to 15 per cent Customs duty but the duty is ‘Nil’ under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN which includes Vietnam,” read the release.
“The importer was thus trying to take advantage of the FTA as well as use the items covered thereunder to conceal and smuggle restricted Agarbattis; Agarbattis are placed in the restricted category since August last year and cannot be imported without a license,” it added.
Acting on an input, a tight watch was kept on its six imported containers that had landed at the Chennai port. The containers said to contain Joss powder and Premix powder for making incense sticks revealed huge quantities of undeclared agarbatttis and agarbatti powder concealed behind the declared goods.
The Customs officers searched the office and residential premises of the importer at Bangalore and apprehended the accused who had planned the smuggling. Upon inquiry, they revealed they had ordered two more containers from Vietnam, which were in the pipeline. Those containers were searched and identified at the Chennai port adding to the seizure.
“The seizures and arrests were part of a nation-wide drive by the Customs to stop the smuggling of Agarbattis, which are on the restricted list of import. It may be noted that on account of large scale misuse of ASIAN FTAs a review of or total withdrawal from the FTAs is being demanded by Indian Manufacturers,” the release said. (ANI)

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