A high level surveillance has been kept by Mumbai airport customs staff on passengers and crew for averting smuggling activities.
There has been a rise in the number of smuggling cases involving airport staff. For averting this crime, the vigilance team has tightened its grip. On Wednesday intelligence unit officials seized seven gold bars weighing 530 gram valued at Rs. 15,65,567 from Air India’s senior Captain Vijay Pratap operating flight AI 932 from Jeddah to Mumbai . The official added that the commander was attempting surreptitious removal of gold bars by concealing them in hand baggage which was recovered. It was seized under the Provisions of Custom Act, 1962.
Jet Airways cabin crew and Mumbai airport’s duty terminal manager too were caught by customs and they were proved to be guilty. There are many unreported cases too; these crew members take advantage of their post and bypass customs and formalities.
An Airhostess of Jet Airline spoke to AV on the condition of anonymity, “Such incidents occur on a regular basis. The cabin crew and staff generally buy bulk gold and bring it to India. Many of them even have tie up with city jewellers. They not only smuggle gold but bring several other things to India. Thank god these people are now coming under scanner.”
“Some of the Air India staff’s family members run small garment or jewellery business. These frequent flyers staff purchase commodities for running their private business,” she added.
“In the light of recent instance of smuggling by crew member of the airlines, high level of surveillance has been kept by airport customs staff on passengers and crew. This proactive approach by customs has resulted in seizure,” said AIU official.
The accused Vijay Pratap was not arrested as the total value of the gold, brought from Jeddah, was less than Rs 20lakh. According to the AIU, Pratap, 45, has been flying for the last two decades
“The commander was drawing a hefty salary and had still indulged in the smuggling. We are investigating if he had committed similar crime in the past,” said the officer.
Mumbai Airport senior Custom Officials confirmed that the national carrier’s commander admitted possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the said gold bard which were being smuggled into India without payment of proper customs duty which is contravention of the provisions of the Customs act, 1962. Further investigations are in progress, the officials added.