New Delhi

“National security needs to be looked at holistically. We must understand that economic security cannot be treated as something separate from physical security,” said Balesh Kumar, Principal Director General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), while discussing the smuggling scenario in the country at the FICCI CASCADE ‘In Conversation Series’. Speaking on the challenging security environment that India faced, Kumar was underling the need for all law enforcement agencies to have a constant vigil to prevent smuggling as well as to ensure that necessary inputs were available to prevent potential terror attacks funded both externally and internally.

“Sealing of borders is not enough to secure the hinterland. Issues relating to security can travel across the borders very quickly into India and for that we must have a clear strategy of comprehensive approach of looking at the internal security in conjunction with external security as well as physical security along with economic security”, he added. Highlighting the unwavering efforts of DRI officers during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, Kumar informed that DRI has strategically focused on smuggling of cigarettes and gold this year seizing illicit cigarettes worth Rs. 45 crores and gold worth Rs. 275 crores in the last 9 months.

FICCI CASCADE has launched an ‘In Conversation Series’ to share insights and deepen understanding on the various facets of illicit trade such as smuggling and counterfeiting with various subject matter experts. As part of the series, Balesh Kumar discussed the threat posed by smuggling to India’s security and economy, the pattern of smuggling due to COVID-19, preparedness of enforcement agencies in terms of adequacy of manpower and resources, and terrorism financing through the proceeds of smuggling.

Moderating the session, P. C. Jha, Former Chairman, CBIC and Advisor, FICCI CASCADE, said “Smuggling of items such as cigarettes, narcotics, substandard food items and medicines leads to severe health hazards. The unaccounted profit generated through smuggling is also utilised to finance global terror activities.”

Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE, in his welcome address, observed that illicit trade was undeniably one of the greatest risks globally. Unfortunately, the problem has only compounded in the current COVID crisis when criminals have used the pandemic as an opportunity to increase their nefarious activities. Applauding the work of DRI, he added, “Even in this challenging scenario, DRI officers are fulfilling their responsibilities with utmost dedication and zeal and are playing a vital role in strengthening the economic and physical security of the nation.”

FICCI CASCADE has been, over the years, actively focusing on curbing the problem of growing illicit trade in smuggled, pass-offs and counterfeit goods and have been conducting dialogues focusing on identifying opportunities for joint actions to combat this menace. The interaction revolved around the collaborative role of law enforcement machinery, government and industry in thwarting this menace besides the need for collaboration through data sharing mechanisms and knowledge dissemination.

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