The consignment was meant for for Jamia Darul Masiha, a madrasa at Gorevali run by Mufti Abdul Qayyum Khan. The copies of the Quran along with 500 CDs containing speeches on various aspects of religion, were sent from Dubai by Khan’s father who works in Dubai.
According to Khan, he made numerous trips to meet the customs officials at Mundra but all efforts went in vain. Khan asserts that the consignment was sent legally and that he paid Rs 8,000 as shipment charges.
The problem arose when some custom officials suspected it to be “objectionable literature”. Khan was allegedly interrogated by customs officials and state and central intelligence officials. “They asked me lot of questions but they were not satisfied. I told the customs and intelligence officials to get the copies of the literature examined by some Arabic experts of their own choice,” said Khan.
An Arabic expert found no objectionable material, but when Khan asked for the release of the shipment, he was asked to pay a demurrage charge of Rs 2.98 lakh in 2010. Khan, however, refused to pay, blaming the Customs department for the inordinate delay. Moreover, he said the material was not for business purposes and were donated by Indian Muslims in Dubai and was meant for free distribution in the madrasa and among the Muslims in Kutch district. “I can’t be forced to pay for the incompetency of the government officials,” he said.
The demurrage charges have doubled since 2010, according to an official of Trans Asia Shipping Services Ltd which provided the container for the shipment. “We cannot release the consignment till the demurrage payment is cleared,” said the official.
“I have asked the consignee to come personally and discuss the issue with me so that a solution could be found,” said Deputy Commissioner of Customs at Mundra M Uma Shankar. Religious literature like the Quran, Gita and Bible are not levied customs duties, added Shankar.