Extortion Racket: CBI Grills Top Mumbai Airport Customs Officials Over Alleged Misuse Of Body Scanner X-ray Machines

Extortion Racket: CBI Grills Top Mumbai Airport Customs Officials Over Alleged Misuse Of Body Scanner X-ray Machines

The Free Press Journal had exposed the human rights violation at the Mumbai Airport by customs forcing passengers to strip for body scanning without consent or magistrate orders

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 09:52 AM IST
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Extortion Racket: CBI Grills Top Mumbai Airport Customs Officials | File

Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned top Mumbai Airport customs officials on Tuesday over alleged misuse of body scanner X-ray machines for extortion and pocketing of contraband gold and failure of the customs commissioner to take action despite a vigilance report against errant officers. The Free Press Journal had exposed the human rights violation at the Mumbai Airport by customs forcing passengers to strip for body scanning without consent or magistrate orders.

The CBI questioned Customs Vigilance Additional Commissioner Nancy Dsouza about the preliminary investigation report submitted against three customs officers identified as Air Intelligence Unit C batch incharge Customs Superintendent Pankaj Pareva, and Superintendents Jitendra Yadav and Vinod for extortion and pilfering gold detected in the rectum of passenger Abdul Nivas during body scan. The trio threatened the passenger and extorted Rs75,000 from him, before releasing him after pocketing the gold bar, which was supposed to be seized and deposited in the government treasury for all confiscated precious metals and stones. The CBI also questioned customs on the appointment of Pareva to the sensitive Air Intelligence Unit from the protocol office of the Chief Customs Commissioner Prachi Swaroop. The agency collected body scanner X-ray data, records and footage for scrutiny.

Details of the case

Airport Customs Commissioner Manish Mani Tiwari avoided calls and messages for comments. He has applied for a year-long leave after repeated exposure of extortion and corruption rackets in Mumbai Airport Customs. The racket run by select customs superintendents and assistant commissioners posted in the elite Air Intelligence Unit intercepted passengers clearing theGreen Channel just outside the airport chief commissioner’s office near the Arrival Hall.

The customs vigilance report confirmed that passengers on arrival were threatened with option to sit all day and night as hostage or get body X-rays done to leave the airport. “No case has been booked on the basis of body scanning X-ray. Any contraband gold detected in the body scanning X-ray was pocketed by the customs officials on duty and the passenger was released after taking a hefty amount,” admitted a senior customs officials aware about the shenanigans of the men in white.

Prachi Swaroop held a meeting with Tiwari and Dsouza to order transfers of 13 customs superintendents and officers. “It is a cover up attempt by senior IRS officers over failure to stop such blatant corruption and extortion rackets. Customs commissioner did not file cases against the accused customs officers despite CCTV evidence,” said another official.

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