FPJ Impact: Amid Diplomatic Row With US, Customs Top Brass Issues Marching Orders To Dy Commissioner, Others Posted At Mumbai Int'l Airport

FPJ Impact: Amid Diplomatic Row With US, Customs Top Brass Issues Marching Orders To Dy Commissioner, Others Posted At Mumbai Int'l Airport

Airport customs officials defended their actions of asking about the gold bangles as the diplomat Wendy Washington was not on the protocol list provided by the US consulate and was provided all the diplomatic courtesy as per laid down rules

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Friday, November 17, 2023, 10:15 PM IST
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Sanjeev Chetule |

Furious customs top brass have issued marching orders to Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Deputy Customs Commissioner Sanjeev Chetule along with dozen other men in white posted at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) following a complaint by the US consulate general of illegal detention and search of an US diplomat last month. 

Diplomatic row between India and US

The ugly spat between an US diplomat Ms Wendy Washington and Mumbai Airport Customs officers who questioned her about the gold bangles and jewellery on arrival from Bangkok flight flagged for contraband gold had escalated into a diplomatic row between India and US. 

Airport customs officials defended their actions of asking about the gold bangles as the diplomat Wendy Washington was not on the protocol list provided by the US consulate and was provided all the diplomatic courtesy as per laid down rules.

“US officials are high handed and try to brow beat Indian authorities whenever asked for documents or questioned about any dutiable goods. It is unfortunate that a young officer is being punished for doing his duty,” rued a senior airport customs official. 

The principal chief commissioner of customs zone 3 ordered the relieving of dy commissioner Sanjeev Chetule and 12 others including customs superintendents and central excise officers on deputation to Mumbai airport customs. 

The Free Press Journal has exclusively reported on Thursday the ugly spat over the alleged detention and search of Wendy Washington attached with the US Consulate in Mumbai by customs officials for having several gold bangles and ornaments on arrival from Bangkok. 

“She created a ruckus claiming diplomatic immunity and called senior US embassy officials to brow beat our customs officials making baseless allegations unbecoming of a diplomat,” said another customs official witness to the rude and high handed behaviour of Wendy Washington. 

Mandatory training of all front line officials posted at the airport

Earlier on Friday Airport Customs officers on instructions from their controlling authority, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance ordered mandatory training of all front line officials posted at the airport on clearance of foreign diplomats according to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and soft skills in handling passengers at the busy international terminal of the Mumbai Airport. 

All customs officers were given presentations and training at the airport conference room to prevent such diplomatic gaffes in future. 

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