A ground staffer who had been previously fired and expelled from Mumbai airport for his involvement in gold smuggling, was found working at the international terminal of the airport recently. The man in question was found working as a duty manager handling sensitive flights of Air India and Emirates, raising concerns about security at the airport.
Kalsi was found at T2 with a valid entry pass working as a duty shift manager for the ground-handling agency responsible for Air India and Emirates flights. File pic for representation
The staffer was identified as Pritpal Singh Kalsi, who used to work as a load controller for Jet Airways. On May 19 last year, Kalsi was arrested after he was found involved in smuggling. He, along with another Jet staffer, Hameed, was caught sneaking in 3 kg gold valued at Rs 76.4 lakh.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) had nabbed a passenger, Kunnil Abbas Muhammad, who had brought the gold from Dubai via Jet Airways flight 9W 537. While both employees had been fired, Kalsi was released on a personal and surety bond of Rs 50,000.
On June 22 the same year, Kalsi surfaced at Chennai airport, though not working there, and was caught smuggling 23 gold bars, weighing 1 kg each, wrapped in linen cloth. Though he had managed to give officials the slip in the green channel, he was later nabbed from a hotel near Chennai airport and admitted to his role.
On March 2, 2015, Kalsi made a return to Mumbai international airport and was found working at Terminal 2 (T2) as a duty shift manager for Live Well, the ground-handling agency at T2 for Emirates and Air India. Kalsi had a valid Airport Entry Pass (AE).
“An airport official at T2 saw Kalsi working in the arrivals area and immediately brought it to the notice of the Mumbai Customs office at the arrivals. It was then that Kalsi was caught and the ground-handling agency was questioned about his presence. Kalsi was asked to leave the terminal and the agency, too, terminated his services,” explained a senior airport official.
The very fact that Kalsi was able to secure an entry pass raises serious security concerns. The entry pass is issued annually in December to all staffers working on airport premises only after background checks are conducted against their name, both by the police and officials from Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. How Kalsi managed to obtain the pass despite having been caught twice is a question that remains to be answered.
Madhukar Sankhe, assistant commissioner of police, airport division, said, “I have written to both Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the ground-handling agency, asking them why and how Kalsi was allowed to enter T2.
I have also sent a letter to the senior police inspector of Sahar police, asking him to investigate the matter. The response for these letters is awaited.”
Officials from Live Well, the agency that employed Kalsi, didn’t respond to queries, despite several calls and messages having been sent. Officials from Jet Airways said they needed another day to respond to mid-day’s queries.