ASO Preventive recovers betel-nut, gutka

KARACHI: The anti-smuggling organization (ASO) of MCC Preventive has recovered large quantity of smuggled betel-nut and Indian gutka during a raid at a warehouse in Jodia Bazar, Karachi.

Information was passed through Collector Preventive Dr. Iftikhar to Additional Collector Aamir Theim about the presence of smuggled goods in Jodia bazaar. Deputy Collector Muhammad Faisal formed a team to conduct raid at a warehouse behind Sarafa Bazar in Jodia Bazar area.

Resultantly, 48.075 tons of betel nut worth Rs12.787 million and assorted brands of Gutka worth Rs6.405 million were recovered. Investigations are underway in this regard.

It may be mentioned here that betel nut has become the most profitable commodity to trade and a number of other businesses have indulged in its illegitimate trade. However, ASO MCC Preventive under the supervision of Deputy Collector Muhammad Faisal has been remarkable efficient in curbing this illegal business. ASO Preventive has foiled numerous attempt of smuggling and made a number of cases involving goods worth hundreds of millions of rupees.

An official said smuggling and import through mis-declaration was on rise lately. It is not limited to betel nut, a lot of goods including prohibited goods are being cleared through mis-declaration through Green, Yellow and even Red channels as Customs has lost its writ and a very senior Appraisement South officer is reportedly patronizing the unscrupulous elements.

Not only, the illicit trade is being covered up, the officers involved are being protected and appraising/examination officials are being made escape goat.

Referring to the Fact Finding Committee headed by Director General Transit Trade Javed Ghani formed by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to investigate large scale betel nut clearance from MCC Port Qasim, an official alleged the committee was just a farce and aimed at protecting the senior officers and smugglers.

The official said MCC Preventive Karachi had detected the betel nut smuggling/clearance from MCC Port Qasim, and MCC Preventive appointed investigation officer and investigations had made significant progress. However, constituting a fact finding committee without waiting for the MCC Preventive report was beyond understanding. Sources said the main purpose of the fact finding committee is to protect certain elements including Customs officers.  If a committee was to be formed, it should have been for MCC Appraisement West also and not just for MCC Port Qasim.

It may be mentioned here that betel nut clearance was also detected at MCC Appraisement West and an FIR was lodged in this regard nominating Appraising Officer Shahid Murad among others.

Appraising Officer Shahid Murad was nominated in an FIR, despite the fact that Shahid Murad did not complete any of the impugned GDs. He was nominated in the FIR because he completed GDs of the accused importer sometime back. Sources said Shahid Murad was made escape goat to protect certain senior officers.

An official said that a fact finding committee should also have been formed to investigate the affairs at MCC Appraisement West, so that justice could be served and some innocent official could not be indicted.

The officials have also expressed reservations on the fact finding committee as it is being headed by an officer of questionable reputation.

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