While passion and patriotic fervour of the citizenry is set to soar tomorrow, the issue of safety — particularly at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) — seems to be giving ground.
The situation appears particularly perilous following the arrest of two Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) men for alleged involvement in a gold smuggling racket. So, while personnel deployment at the airport is at an all-time high, there is tension in the air.
During a joint raid conducted by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs on Friday night and Saturday morning, five persons — including CISF sub-inspectors Murari Lal Meena and Uday Singh Meena (32) — were apprehended for allegedly smuggling 11kg gold worth Rs 3 crore into the country.
Bag with swag
Around 8.30 pm on Friday night, S Cheda (40), a passenger of an Emirates Dubai-Mumbai flight that had just landed, instead of proceeding towards immigration channel walked into a restroom with his luggage.
There he exchanged a bag with Uday Singh. Uday then went towards the exit where Murari Lal was waiting to take the consignment forward. The raiding party, which was monitoring all the movements, arrested the trio and confiscated the bag containing 6.5 kg gold.
The second case came to light around 8 am on Saturday. Atul Bafna (25), who had arrived via another Emirates Dubai-Mumbai flight, was arrested from the green channel with 4.5 kg of gold. Bafna told the agencies he was supposed to hand over the consignment to a CISF man who did not turn up.
“We suspect the involvement of more security personnel. Interrogation is on and if some more names come out, cases will be registered against them,” a DRI official told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.
“The matter is at a very primary stage of investigation, so I would not like to comment,” said PM Saleem, commissioner, Mumbai airport customs.
Trash is cash
On March 12 this year, the AIU team arrested three people, including two airport employees, in connection with a smuggling racket. While the arrested smuggler would drop the consignments into a designated waste box, the airport employees would pick them up discreetly. Both the employees were terminated on the very day of their arrest (‘Airport employees helped smuggler by taking out the trash,’ March 14). Vigilance has been at an all-time high ever since.