Mumbai: Customs close toilets to catch smugglers at international airport; passengers irked

The move aims to break the smuggling chain as carriers hide contraband in toilet for further passage

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 07:56 AM IST
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Mumbai: To prevent gold smuggling at the international airport, Customs Deputy Commissioner Manu Jain has ordered the closure of two toilets so that the peddlers can't hide the contraband for its retrieval by the next carrier. The idea is to break the chain of smugglers as they conceal the gold in toilets so the peddler next-in-chain could find it and pass it on further. The denial of washrooms public utility has been extended to even airline officials, airport staff and duty free shop employees during the arrival of flights from suspect nations.

“Rising cases of contraband gold smuggled by Sudan nationals landing in Mumbai has led the Customs officials to be more vigilant and monitor suspicious behaviour,” confirmed a senior Customs official at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).

However, the move hasn't gone down well with fliers, with some of them even terming it as “inhuman”. International passengers landing between 3.30am and 4.30am said they were inconvenienced by the abrupt closure of toilets between 4am and 6am as ordered by the Customs official.“The intentions might be good but it is inhuman. Use of washrooms cannot be denied and all passengers cannot be discriminated against,” said another customs superintendent posted at the arrival hall.

Businessman Rakesh Jain, who landed at CSMIA from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning, was shocked when the janitor at the gate prevented him from using the washroom. The janitor directed him to the Customs counter for permission to use the toilets. “It's ridiculous that a tired passenger after a long flight and tedious immigration is denied use of toilets. Early morning most get the urge to relieve. Better monitoring of suspects and passenger profiling is needed, not harassment of genuine fliers,” fumed Mr Jain.

The CSMIA operator spokesperson declined to comment.

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