Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate alleged that many passengers of Maitree Express, a Dhaka-Kolkata train service, were involved in smuggling and duty evasion while bringing goods into Bangladesh taking the advantage of relaxed customs checking due to shortage of manpower and logistics.
In this context, the CIID has requested the revenue board for taking necessary action to prevent smuggling and duty evasion by passengers of the train.
The CIID last week in a letter to NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman made four recommendations including customs checking at the destination station of the train, arrangement of separate and sealed coaches with the train for luggage transportation and deployment of customs officials on the train to ensure security of the sealed compartment in this regard.
The customs intelligence also suggested for conducting scan of baggage of passengers to be selected under risk management system which is followed at the airports.
Maitree Express runs thrice in a week between Dhaka and Kolkata and reverse.
‘Customs intelligence was informed that many passengers of the train were brining goods into the country without paying duties and taxes,’ CIID director general Moinul Khan said in the letter.
Customs intelligence and other customs offices and agencies many times seized significant volume of such goods for alleged duty evasion, he said.
For instance, a CIID patrol team on October 4 seized 76 luggage stuffed with 140 kilogram three-piece, share, Panjabi and imitation jewelry and brought without paying taxes at the Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station, the last destination of the Dhaka-bound Maitree Express.
Earlier in January, it also seized goods worth Tk 1.22 crore from Darshana railway station, the letter stated.
Currently, customs procedures of passengers are completed at Darshana international railway station in Chuadanga.
‘It is not possible for customs officials to conduct proper customs procedures at the station due to lack of infrastructure and manpower,’ the letter stated.
The stoppage time of the train at the station is also very short which causes hindrance in customs checking, it said.
Locomotive master or train drivers in connivance with passengers arrange to unload the smuggled and duty-evaded goods at different places between Darshana and Dhaka by reducing the speed of train, according to the customs intelligence information.
The CIID requested the NBR for arranging meetings among railway ministry, railway police and Jessore Customs Commissionerate to solve the problems.
NBR officials said that they had received the letter and the board would examine the proposals before taking any decision in this connection.
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