Several employees at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport are on the radar of the Customs department after their names cropped up during questioning of arrested smugglers. Those under the scanner include ground staff and some senior officials, sources said. “Police discovered that some of them are responsible for loading and unloading of cargo, maintaining inventory, collecting garbage, and cleaning and supervising maintenance work,” a source said.
Since 2015, the Customs department has arrested 19 people working with several airlines or as ground staff at the airport. “We have found a nexus between gold smugglers and some airport employees. They are lured by smugglers as they have access to the airport premises and their movements are not routinely checked by the Customs officials,” a senior official said.
Sources said the Customs department has raised the matter with the Delhi International Airport Limited and security agencies, and has sought a thorough background check of each employee providing different services at the airport.
A few days ago, two men, including an employee of a company engaged for ground work, were arrested for their alleged involvement in gold smuggling. The accused had moulded the gold into the shape of keys, and had painted them silver to dodge Customs. “One of the men was intercepted by officials after his arrival from Bangkok, and he gave up the other accused. The second accused is suspected to have smuggled 765 grams of gold on two previous occasions,” the officer said.
Officials also cited the example of a man, who was coming from Dubai and was arrested on charges of smuggling. “On March 12, after landing, he went to the washroom. He was detained after crossing the Green Channel. During checking, officials did not find anything on him but on sustained questioning, he disclosed that he had hidden two bars and four sheets of gold, worth Rs 75 lakh, inside the cavity of the flush assembly system of the toilet,” the officer said. “He had clicked several pictures of the cavity and was going to send them over WhatsApp to one of the airport employees so he could collect it from there.”