Afghan diplomat caught with 25kg gold at Mumbai airport

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India’s DRI intercepts Afghan consul general smuggling 25kg gold worth Rs 18.6 crore.

MUMBAI, India, May 4: In a dramatic turn of events, Zakia Wardak, Afghanistan’s consul general, was intercepted at Mumbai airport by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials, allegedly attempting to smuggle 25 kg of gold worth Rs 18.6 crore from Dubai into India. The incident, which occurred on April 25, has stirred controversy as Wardak evaded arrest due to diplomatic immunity, despite the significant value of the seized gold.

Sources reveal that Wardak, accompanied by her son, arrived in Mumbai from Dubai on an Emirates flight around 5.45 pm. Utilizing the green channel, typically reserved for passengers not carrying dutiable goods, they were stopped by DRI officials as they attempted to exit the airport. While initial baggage checks yielded no incriminating evidence, a subsequent physical pat-down by a female officer uncovered the gold bars concealed within Wardak’s customized clothing.

The discovery of 25 yellow-colored metal bars, each weighing a kilogram, hidden in Wardak’s attire, prompted further investigation. Although Wardak possessed a diplomatic passport issued by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, she failed to produce any documentation legitimizing her possession of the foreign-origin gold. Consequently, the gold bars were seized, valued at Rs 18.6 crore by a government-approved valuer.

Notably, Wardak’s diplomatic status shielded her from arrest, despite the seriousness of the offense. This development marks a rare instance of a senior diplomat from a foreign country being intercepted in a smuggling case at an Indian airport.

Wardak, appointed consul general of Afghanistan in Mumbai during the tenure of former President Ashraf Ghani’s government, found herself embroiled in controversy following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. While India does not officially recognize the Taliban regime, diplomatic missions established under the previous Afghan government continue to operate in Mumbai and Hyderabad, offering consular, educational, and commercial assistance to Afghan nationals.

In response to inquiries, Wardak expressed surprise and promised to investigate the accusations further. She cited personal challenges and medical reasons for her absence from Mumbai at the time. Meanwhile, the seized gold bars and related evidence have been sealed pending further legal proceedings.

This news has been read 1130 times!

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