A consignment of the Holy Quran weighing 25 tonnes sent from Saudi Arabia six months ago is going to be auctioned at the International Transshipment Container Terminal here after the importer, a College in Malappuram, expressed inability to pay the Rs 8 lakh customs duty, official sources said.
Abdul Salam IP, principal of Darul Uloom Arabic College at Vazhakkad in Malappuram district, said he could not claim the huge quantity of holy books as the customs duty was "very high" and it was not affordable for him. He said he may take the books when it is auctioned by the current custodian of the books after the customs department fix a "correct rate" for it.
The customs have reportedly fixed Rs 1 lakh as a base price for the consignment at the e-auction to be carried out on January 21.
An officer told PTI that everything is being done online in a transparent manner.
Salam said when he requested the customs department to send the consignment back to Saudi Arabia, he was informed that a huge amount has to be paid for that.
He said he gave a letter to the Container terminal authorities seeking to carry out auction of the books after he was informed that Rs 8 lakh would be levied as customs duty.
Salam said the books were sent free of cost from Saudi Arabia after he informed a contact in the Gulf country that alot of books in his college neighbourhood were lost in the 2018 Kerala floods.
"It is original text of Holy Quran. The books were brought here for free distribution," Salam told PTI.
He said he had requested some of his friends for help but they could not as they were also facing financial problems due to floods.
Salam said he was worried over the "unnecessary controversy" being generated over the issue by trying to give the whole episode a communal colour.