Immigration officer thrashes flier at Mumbai airport for pointing out mistake
A cruiseliner chef, who had rushed back to India from Mexico after son's serious accident, beaten up, humiliated after argument with officer who stamped wrong date on passport
As the chef for a cruise liner, Kishore Shimpi was at sea, thousands of kilometres away, but when he heard about his son’s accident and head injury, he desperately began to look for a way to return to family’s side in Mumbai. Time was against him; he was at Mexico, but there was no direct flight to Mumbai from there, so he had to first go to Paris and then catch another flight. But what he could not have bargained for was the hours it would cost him to deal with the incompetence and the insensitive treatment he got at the hands of Immigrations officials.
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“My son met with an accident, and I was desperate to rush to him after landing at Mumbai airport, but instead I was assaulted, abused and detained for pointing out an error made by an immigration staff at the counter,” said the 43-year-old.
Kishore Shimpi’s passport shows how the immigration officer wrongly stamped his passport with February 28 as the date of entry instead of March 1
On March 1, his flight from Paris (Jet Airways flight 9W 123) arrived at 8.15 am and he rushed towards the immigrations section to finish the formalities and leave the airport. But in his distracted state of mind, Shimpi did not notice that the official had wrongly stamped his passport with February 28 as the date of entry.
19-year-old Tushar met with an accident on his bike. He was not wearing a helmet and sustained serious head injuries. He has now been moved out of the ICCU
“I was the first to leave the airplane the moment it reached Mumbai airport and I ran towards the immigration area for the required clearance. It had been a long journey for me without any break, and I was completely exhausted,” he recalled.
It was only when he went forward towards the exit point that another Immigrations staffer pointed out the error. Shimpi was asked to go back to the same counter and ask for the correct stamp. And he wasn’t the only one facing this problem.
“There were four or five more passengers who had also gone to the same counter number 21, and they too had the same problem. The senior immigration officer asked all of us to go back to the Counter number 21 and get the correct date stamp affixed, and the officer even asked a junior to escort us there,” said Shimpi.
They went back to Counter Number 21, where Immigrations Constable Deepak Chavan had affixed the wrong stamp. But to Shimpi’s dismay, the junior staffer began to joke with Chavan. The junior told the counter in-charge to change the date and quipped that it was not February 28 but February 2. That’s when Shimpi lost his temper.
“I said in Marathi, ‘Kay re zopa kadtai ka tumhi lok (Are you guys dozing?), today is March 1’. On hearing this, the immigration staffer left his counter, came towards me in a fit of rage and screamed, ‘Koop mota jalas ka tu baher gaavi javun (Have you become too big after visiting foreign country),” Shimpi recounted.
From this point on, the row kept getting uglier, soon turning into fisticuffs. Shimpi alleged that other immigration staffers turned up and held him, after which Chavan was easily able to land punches on him. “I was abused, beaten up and humiliated by the immigration staffer like I was a third-grade criminal,” he told mid-day.
After a while, few armed CISF personnel escorted Shimpi to their office. “I pleaded with them to release me; asked them to keep my passport but allow me to go to my son in hospital, but my request went unheard. By then, I had already wasted two and half hours after landing,” said Shimpi.
An airport doctor was summoned to examine whether he was under the influence of alcohol, and Shimpi was certified sober. Then some immigration staffers took him to the senior officer’s cabin. There, the CCTV footage from the incident was reviewed and Shimpi was found in the clear.
“After seeing that there had been a lapse on the part of his junior colleague, the senior officer asked me to forget what had happened and assured disciplinary action against the errant staffer. But hours of my time had been wasted, so I submitted a written complaint to the senior, who returned my passport to me with the right date stamp. I also registered an non-cognisable complaint against the staffer at Sahar police station,” said Shimpi.
Shimpi could finally leave the airport after noon, and rushed to the hospital in Kalyan, where he learnt that his 19-year-old son, Tushar, had been brought out of the ICCU. However, he had received serious head injuries, including a clot in the brain, after falling off a motorbike. “He is yet to respond and we are praying for his speedy recovery, said Shimpi.
Hours after his complaint, Immigrations officials went to the police station to lodge a cross-complaint, but this time, the cops registered an FIR.
An official from Sahar police station said, “After the passenger registered an NC and left, the Immigration officials came to register FIR against the passenger around 4 pm. An FIR was registered against the passenger under IPC Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 504 (intentional insult).”
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Suresh Vedak confirmed the FIR, while other cops said they would have to view the CCTV footage to determine what had happened. Shimpi is more worried about his son than the FIR.
“I was not aware of the FIR but I was the first to lodge a complaint. My priority is to be with my son. I have done no wrong, all the facts are in the CCTV footage. The immigration staffer had no reason to leave the counter and abuse a passenger,” he added.
Shimpi's son, Tushar (19) is a first-year BBA student who was riding his bike with a friend when they crashed. Tushar, who was not wearing a helmet, sustained serious head injuries. Shimpi’s wife Manisha was unaware of the incident at airport until she heard him narrating the incident to mid-day. “My son met with a serious accident on Saturday and has swelling and clotting in his brain. Initially, I did not inform my husband, but on Sunday morning, I had to tell him, and he returned to India immediately,” she said.