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A third of India's gold demand this year is likely to be met via smuggling, impacting government, importing banks and big jewellers. In Picture: Seized gold bars are kept on displayed by custom officers at the international airport in Kolkata Nov.19, 2013 (Representational image).Reuters file

SpiceJet has suspended the two employees who were held at Mangalore International Airport on charges of smuggling gold into India on Sunday, the budget carrier confirmed in a statement. The gold, weighing 2.56 kg and valued at about Rs. 75 lakh, was hidden under one of the aircraft seats.

The two employees were suspected to be part of a conspiracy to smuggle the contraband into the country on a flight from Dubai to Mangalore via Mumbai. 

"The two employees of Spicejet working at Mangaluru International Airport were part of the conspiracy and were helping smugglers in retrieving the gold biscuits from the aircraft upon its landing at Mangaluru," Vinayak Bhat, Deputy Director, DRI, Mangaluru, was quoted as saying in a statement by The Hindu.

The two suspended employees — Mohammed Anif and OA Muddaiah — were part of the smuggling ring and took over after the contraband was brought by a hired person on the flight's Dubai-Mumbai route. The duo took charge on the Mumbai-Mangalore leg of the journey. 

"It was here that the arrested Spicejet employees, who were passing on advance information to the smugglers regarding the itinerary of the aircraft, were found indulging in retrieving the concealed gold biscuits from the aircraft and delivering them outside later thus, misusing their position to smuggle gold out of the airport by avoiding customs check all along," Bhat further said in the statement.

"On 15 July, the Mumbai-Mangaluru flight number Sg479, DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) officers have taken in custody two of our employees who were allegedly involved in gold smuggling. SpiceJet has taken immediate disciplinary action against the said employees Mohammed Anif (Sr CSE, Airport Services) and O.A.Muddaiah (Security Officer) and have suspended them from their services with immediate effect pending complete enquiry and investigation by relevant agencies, " SpiceJet said in a statement.

Shares of budget carrier SpiceJet were trading 0.31 percent lower at Rs. 63.85 at around 11.05 a.m. on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday.