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Border trade at Nathula under scanner

By A Correspondent

GANGTOK, Nov 21 - Indo-China border trade at Nathula has hit the limelight once again for wrong reasons. This time it is facing a serious charge of being a machine for money laundering.

Customs officials had recently seized 1.5 lakh Chinese (15 lakh in Indian Currency) currency from two traders of Sikkim. The duo allegedly exchanged the scrapped notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 denomination with Chinese currency and later got them converted to Indian currency again through a Gangtok-based money exchanger, Ram Kumar Agarwal.

Trade through the route was kicked off in 2006 as part of confidence building measures between the two neighbouring countries. Trade was normal and smooth until instances of smuggling of gold bars, red sanders and other illegal items came to fore following seizures by Customs officials and police.

Noting the rise in smuggling activities, the trade activities are being closely monitored by Customs and other security agencies.

Customs officials suspect that the gamut of illegal activities at Nathula is more than what meets the eye.

It was also found that sugar is being traded in huge quantities though it is not in the listed items for trading. Currently, India allows export of 29 items and the import of 15 items from China.

Nathula is the shortest land pass for trade between China and India, and also the highest altitude land pass for trade. Since 2015, it has also served as the second route for Indian pilgrims visiting Mansarovar Lake.

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Border trade at Nathula under scanner

GANGTOK, Nov 21 - Indo-China border trade at Nathula has hit the limelight once again for wrong reasons. This time it is facing a serious charge of being a machine for money laundering.

Customs officials had recently seized 1.5 lakh Chinese (15 lakh in Indian Currency) currency from two traders of Sikkim. The duo allegedly exchanged the scrapped notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 denomination with Chinese currency and later got them converted to Indian currency again through a Gangtok-based money exchanger, Ram Kumar Agarwal.

Trade through the route was kicked off in 2006 as part of confidence building measures between the two neighbouring countries. Trade was normal and smooth until instances of smuggling of gold bars, red sanders and other illegal items came to fore following seizures by Customs officials and police.

Noting the rise in smuggling activities, the trade activities are being closely monitored by Customs and other security agencies.

Customs officials suspect that the gamut of illegal activities at Nathula is more than what meets the eye.

It was also found that sugar is being traded in huge quantities though it is not in the listed items for trading. Currently, India allows export of 29 items and the import of 15 items from China.

Nathula is the shortest land pass for trade between China and India, and also the highest altitude land pass for trade. Since 2015, it has also served as the second route for Indian pilgrims visiting Mansarovar Lake.