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The apex court also ruled that no fresh licenses to sell firecrackers would be issued anymore. Earlier, traders could sell firecrackers if they had the license to do so.Reuters file

China may have irked India by blocking a bid to brand JeM terrorist Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, but the dragon country is being paid back in a different way by its neighbour on the eve of Diwali. A Union law enforcement agency on last Saturday seized illegal Chinese firecrackers worth Rs. 9 crore, imported into India under the garb of medical equipment.

A similar seizure at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Nhava Sheva of illegal Chinese firecrackers worth Rs. 7.2 crore was reported in August this year.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized illegal Chinese firecrackers from six cargo containers in New Delhi at the Inland Container Depot in Tughlaqabad on Saturday.

The firecrackers were wrongly declared as medical equipment for handicapped/disabled persons and as bicycle parts, PTI quoted Debi Prasad Dash, principal additional director general of the DRI, as saying. 

He added that the consignment was imported by a Punjab-based importer allegedly using a fake import-export code in collusion with a Delhi-based customs broker. The duo has been arrested for the crime.

The seizure coincides with India's commerce ministry asking authorities such as the DRI, customs and state government agencies to increase surveillance on Chinese firecrackers making their way into India during Diwali.

An advertisement issued by the Central Board of Excise & Customs did not name any country but appealed to the public to alert against "illegal foreign origin firecrackers" since they contain sulphur or sulphurate in admixture with any chlorate and are hazardous in nature.

"Illegal foreign firecrackers endanger lives and harm the environment," read the advertisement.

A report by the Mail Today had estimated the value of illegal Chinese firecrackers imported into India every year at Rs. 1,500 crore, using false declarations in import documents.

In a related report, the Sunday Guardian said that there is a strong campaign on social media to boycott Chinese mobile phones in addition to firecrackers.

Apart from the hazardous nature of Chinese firecrackers, another factor that is playing a role is the boycott call on account of China's continued support to Pakistan, a country which India holds responsible for terror attacks, including the latest one in Uri that left 20 Indian Army soldiers dead.

"Country is supreme and all other things come later and thus we have taken this decision and believe people are really very unhappy with the Chinese support to Pakistan and they do not want to buy Chinese goods be it crackers or the other goods," Ashok Thapar, patron of the Ludhiana Wholesale Fireworks Association, told the Times of India.