Mumbai: Customs official under scanner for smuggling 50 suitcases of gutka

AIU officers found the suitcases lying abandoned on a conveyer belt; sources say the suspect was standing nearby and could not justify why he did not raise an alarm about the luggage

A customs official is under the scanner for his alleged involvement in smuggling of around 50 suitcases filled with gutka packets. Officials have also arrested 10 people who were reportedly awaiting the go-ahead from the accused, Kadam Kumar, to pick up the suitcases from T2 airport.

Around 50 suitcases filled with gutka packets were found on the conveyer belt of T2 terminal of Mumbai international airport
Around 50 suitcases filled with gutka packets were found on the conveyer belt of T2 terminal of Mumbai international airport

On September 14, Air India flight 984 from Dubai landed at the airport at around 4.05 am. At 4.45 am, the airline informed AIU officials saying that there were 50 suitcases lying on the conveyer belt. A team reached the spot and conducted a check, and found packets of gutka in them. Officers then immediately started combing the airport, interrogating passengers and managed to nab 10 people.

An airline official present at the spot alleged, “The luggage had been lying there for a long time and one of the officials informed Customs about it. A team of AIU found gutka packets inside the bags. They found the officer standing nearby and started interrogating him; it seemed as though he had admitted to his involvement.”

An officer from another airline, who was present at the time of the search, said, “The AIU officials spread around to find the people who may have been involved. They started asking questions from people standing at the arrivals. The team was yelling at each other for some obscure reason.”

An airport official, on the request of anonymity, added, “The smugglers were spread out all over the airport. Some were hiding in the terminal and others were pretending to be passengers waiting for their luggage. It was suspected that many of them fled and the officials were able to catch only 10 people.

While the original value of the gutka is around Rs 2 lakh - Rs 3 lakh, it is sold at a much higher price illegally. Such a big smuggling racket usually takes place when smugglers are given surety.” While the investigation is still ongoing, sources from the airport alleged that Kumar has not turned up since the day the suitcases were seized.

Official speak
Speaking to mid-day, APS Suri, commissioner of Customs, said, “We cannot draw any conclusions, as the investigation is still in process. Nothing has been proved till now.”

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