Sitharaman commends DRI for seizures throughout pandemic

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 4

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday commended the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for its stellar work during the Covid pandemic, especially when India was in complete lockdown.

“You did not allow exports and imports to suffer ….there was smooth flow of imports at the cost of exposing yourself. You have rendered great service at unusually challenging times,’’ said the Finance Minister while speaking at the virtual celebrations of DRI’s 63rd founding day.

The event was attended by the World Customs Organisation DG Kunio Mikuriya who delivered the opening address.

Sitharaman noted that even at the cost of exposing themselves to the pandemic, the 800-strong DRI had managed to capture contraband and arrest people, thus making sure offenders were not given leeway despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Putting the DRI’s role in perspective, she said physical borders are clearly demarcated and well-trained soldiers protect them. In the case of customs and revenue intelligence, economic borders are drawn “with a line so thin you don’t know at what level the economic zone ends”, she said.

The DRI acted upon whatever actionable intelligence was given to it.

Because of social media, information about successful seizures and arrests were brought into public domain though it brought greater risk to the security and safety of DRI staff in the field. At the same time, this publicity helped people realise the many ways in which the country’s economic security was being threatened.

Dwelling on the number of seizures of drugs and gold, the Minister wondered if the country is dealing with the tip of the iceberg. “We have to be very alert. We can’t feel we have succeeded in stopping every one of them. Every one of them will have to be stopped,’’ she observed.

She called on the DRI personnel to remain on their toes to make sure that the Indian economy finds resurgence and can become the engine of global growth.

The DRI awarded the bravery medal to T S Najibuddin, a contract employee in Kerala, who is on crutches after smugglers rammed their car into his trailing motorcycle and dragged him and another officer for 20 metres. It also honoured Sumer Sen of Rajasthan for braving bullets to help seize 5.5 kgs of gold in September. Since then he has been recuperating at home with a bullet lodged inside his body.

The DRI also honoured its former officer, B Shankaran, with a distinguished services medal. Shankaran had lived up to the DRI motto of “Invisible presence and visible results’’, said the citation.

Along with senior DRI officer Vivek Chaturvedi, the occasion was also addressed by Union Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CBIC Chairman Ajit Kumar and Principal DG NRI C Balesh Kumar.

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