FPJ Exclusive: Passenger accuses Mumbai Customs officers of harrasment, making derogatory comments about his community

FPJ Exclusive: Passenger accuses Mumbai Customs officers of harrasment, making derogatory comments about his community

Ulhasnagar resident Manoj Valecha, 33, has written to the commissioner of customs complaining of racial and castiest comments by front-line officials.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Saturday, February 25, 2023, 11:05 PM IST
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Mumbai Airport | File photo

Mumbai Customs is once again under scrutiny after a passenger filed a police complaint stating that officers harassed him and made derogatory comments about his community.

๐—จ๐—น๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—บ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ

Ulhasnagar resident Manoj Valecha, 33, has written to the commissioner of customs complaining of racial and castiest comments by front-line officials.

Valecha was about to board Indigo flight 6E 1794 to Bangkok on Wednesday morning when he received a call from his home about a medical emergency. He decided not to travel and informed the airline accordingly. The airline had his baggage unloaded and asked him to proceed to the arrival hall. There, according to Valecha, two officers accosted him.

๐——๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ธ ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜€

โ€œI politely explained to them that it was a medical emergency. Both officers were drunk and rude. They made derogatory comments about my Sindhi community and described Ulhasnagar residents as smugglers,โ€ Valecha told FPJ on Saturday.

โ€œThe comments were unwarranted. I felt deeply hurt and decided to file a police complaint against the two officers,โ€ he said.

๐—ข๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—บ

Valecha said the officers threatened to implicate him in a drugs and currency smuggling case.

โ€œThe officers threatened to book me in COFEPOSA [Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974] case. They forced me to undergo a full body X-ray scan without my consent and in violation of Customs Act,โ€ he said.

Sahar police has recorded his statement and is conducting an investigation.

๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฑ, ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜†: ๐—–๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—บ๐˜€

Confirming the complaint, customs officials said that a vigilance inquiry will look into the incident. โ€œPrima facie the passenger was not harassed or humiliated, as alleged. Customs officers were performing their duty and questioned the passenger. He was allowed to go after a baggage check,โ€ said one officer. โ€œThe passengerโ€™s antecedents were verified and baggage checked for any duty evasion, as per customs rule.โ€

The customs department has lately been hit by a series of complaints against men in white over misbehaviour, harassment and extortion.

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