Saturday, October 26, 2013

Robbed by the Indian Customs Officials

On 26th September, 2013 I ordered five books from Mises Store in USA. The books were on their way to my home when the Indian customs department detained my parcel in Ahmadabad foreign post office. I was waiting for my book parcel to arrive, but instead I got a letter from the postal department informing me about this detention. The letter gave no reason why Indian customs detained my book parcel. It just said that they have detained it, and I have to contact them for release of my parcel (see figure 1).

Figure 1
In past also I have ordered books from Mises store, but my parcel was never detained by customs. I called customs office for clarification, and the custom official told me that he doesn't know anything about why they detained my book, but I need to send them some documents (purchase invoice, PAN card copy etc.). The very next day I sent everything to them. They released my parcel a day after, and feeling happy, I waited for it to arrive at my home. Next day when I was in office, my Dad called me and said, that the postman, who came to deliver the parcel, is asking for 3,356 rupees!!! I went rushing back home knowing I was ripped off by the Indian State customs officials. I came back home and the postman told me that I have to pay 3,356 rupees customs duty (better call it extortion) on my books! My book purchase bill was just US$76.85, and I had to pay roughly US$50 duty (see figure 2 below).

Figure 2
I asked for explanations, but he had none because he was, as usual, just following his orders. I called Ahmadabad F.P.O. customs office again for an explanation. What happened next was no surprise to me. The customs official gave me an evasive answer when I asked which "rule" they used to charge this duty when in past the customs office always wrote 'duty free' on my parcels! He never cited any rule or Act. He said, that it is individual customs officer's discretion to decide whether to impose duty on books or not! Some customs officials may let go the books through while some may not! That means, customers are at the mercy of arbitrary decisions of customs office thugs. There is total lawlessness in this country, as I have repeatedly said in my past articles. When I pushed him for clear answers, he started threatening me by saying, that never tell anyone that in past your book parcels went through without paying any customs duty because the government officials can re-open your record and charge duty retrospectively! I was not surprised because I know the Indian government is bankrupt and it is resorting to all evil means of looting its citizens e.g., Vodafone tax case where they are playing this same absurd retrospectively taxing games. He only told me, that because I didn't have IE Code (Import-Export Code), they charged 41% import duty on my books! I knew I was never going to get any coherent answers, so I hung up the phone.

I also knew that going through the bureaucratic mess was futile and a waste of my time, so I paid the duty and released my precious books from the nasty hands of government officials.

I am not sure about this, but because the Indian government is so bankrupt, they are now taxing even books, which are being declared as 'an item of cultural value' by UNESCO/WTO, and thus should not be levied any duty on. Fundamentally, the real issue is why the government is meddling in the Free Foreign Trade in the first place? Why they are imposing customs duty on any imported items? I know the answer: The State is a gang of criminals, and so they want to use every means to exploit us. The idea of 'free foreign trade' or 'free markets' is an anathema for the State. They will continue to loot us as long as we allow them to. As long as people don't understand the true criminal nature of the government, they will continue to rob and pillage us. 

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