Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
The recent report on 'Export Certificate – ‘Passport’ to Trouble at Airport' published by daijiworld created tremendous response as well as outrage among readers who had suffered similar experiences. We have thus taken a special initiative to bring this issue to the notice of higher authorities.
The customs commissioner of Mangalore has responded arrogantly to us, and blamed the passengers rather than their officers.
We are taking up this fight seriously, and assure our readers that we will not stop till we get justice. We hope our readers who suffered in the hands of Mangalore airport customs officials will back our move.
Mangalore, Jul 19 : Till the other day we at daijiworld.com were going through the comments of the people to our special report 'Export Certificate – ‘Passport’ to Trouble at Airport'. But now daijiworld.com team has had a first-hand experience of arrogance at its height from none other than the commissioner of customs in Mangalore himself.
When our team went to meet the commissioner (who took charge recently) D Purushotham , with prior appointment, to get information for a follow-up report following the innumerable comments/complaints we had received, he was nothing but arrogant and discourteous to say the least. People often describe customs officials as abrasive, arrogant, bloated, callous, discourteous, insensitive, lethargic, negative, obstructive and rude and it was shocking to see all these ‘qualities’ in this man who occupies such a high position.
When daijiworld told him about the report he informed us that he aware of such a publication, and has gone through the reports and feedback from readers. He handed over a file to us saying that it contains all relevant information (baggage rules and regulations) and we should read and educate the people by publishing it.
We also informed him that we have received nearly 350 comments from people, and most of them narrate the harassment they faced and also the arrogant attitude of the customs officials. His instantaneous and only answer to this was, “These are all baseless allegations made by people who are ignorant about rules and regulations. There is no specific complaint against any official about any harassment by anyone”.
When he was asked whether there can be smoke without fire and whether people would share their bitter experiences just for the sake of it with no truth in them, he was agitated but insisted that all those were ridiculous comments without any basis. He further said, “We are there only to implement the rules enacted by the ministry concerned”. Not to give in, we asked whether the customs department would bring to the notice of the ministry concerned the problems faced by the people due to the newly implemented archaic rule of limiting gold value at Rs 20,000 to women and the “export certificate” he said,
“People cannot escape laws under the pretext of ‘not being aware’.
When people go to America or other countries they cannot say they did not know certain rules and regulations. It is their duty to know them before they go abroad. We have put all this information in our website and it is the responsibility of the people to know about it before they set on the journey”.
It was perturbing to hear such a callous response coming from an official holding high position in the customs department. Unperturbed by his arrogant behavior we asked him how many people in India have access to go through the website which is in English and even if they have access whether they can understand the intricate rules and regulations he said it was not his responsibility to educate. When we told him that we have come specifically to seek information from him in order to educate people he made a turnaround saying ‘I am not supposed to give information or interview to anyone’, though he had asked us to come and meet him in his Panambur office. Again when we asked him how to get information or seek clarification he said we should get the relevant information from the website.
In fact there was no intention on our part to vilify the customs officials and we even told him that we want to facilitate cordial relationship between the passengers and customs officials at the airport. But he was in no mood to listen and was insisting that all those allegations were baseless. In that case does he mean to say all these 350 people cooked up stories just to denigrate the customs officials? Unfortunately we could not get an answer from him.
Purushotham may be new to the post here, but one fails to understand how he could rubbish these complaints as baseless without even conducting an inquiry into the matter or even offering to look into the matter. If a man of his stature behaves in this manner with the media one can imagine how his subordinates might behave with the ordinary public at the Airport.
He instructed us to educate the public as if it was only the responsibility of the media to educate and he had no responsibility whatsoever as a government servant to do so.
CBI Raid in the Offing!
On further probing the matter, we have come to know from reliable sources that daijiworld’s report has created quite an ‘impact’ in the rank and file of customs officials all over the state. There are also rumours that a CBI raid is in the offing on the top brass of the customs officials here, which must be quite unsettling to them. There are only whispers and no one wants to talk openly about the matter for the fear of incurring the wrath of the top brass. Top officials, it is believed, try to circumvent answering queries for the fear of giving wrong statements.
We even tried to contact the chief commissioner of customs in Bangalore and even the Additional commissioner, unsuccessfully. The customs officials refuse to give their mobile numbers and when we try calling them on land phone we are told they have gone out or are in a meeting. We came to know that even the Bangalore customs office is aware of the report on daijiworld and the complaints from people and are greatly perturbed by the damage caused by the report to the image of the officials and the department.
MP Nalin Kumar Promises Action
Having exposed the goings on in the airport and the nuisance of these officials we are not going to take the matter lying down. On Tuesday (Jul 18, 2012) we met BJP MP from Mangalore Lok Sabha Constituency Nalin Kumar Kateel and gave him a letter explaining the details along with a thick file of the report we had published and also the responses/complaints we have received. Nalin Kumar Kateel was surprised looking at the response elicited by the special report and assured that he would take up the matter with the gravitas it deserves.
As MP he is the chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee and he promised to raise the matter during the meeting once he returns from Delhi on Saturday after the Presidential elections.
Nalin Kumar pointed out there have been complaints about various aspects pertaining to the airport and recently there has been a complaint that the security personnel at the airport demand bribes. Nalin Kumar also said that usually people who use Mangalore Airport are NRIs and business class people. They don’t take the trouble of giving a written complaint and therefore such complaints don’t come to the notice of the elected representatives.
Taking a step forward we want to go to Bangalore, if necessary, to meet customs officials and other ministers concerned and seek their help. Efforts will be made to hand over a letter and a copy of the article and complaints to various union ministers who represent state. Our goal is to ensure that people should not face any difficulties arising out of the laws that come into force from time to time which might give an opportunity for greedy people to squeeze the hard earned money of common people, in the name of customs duty.
Customs comissioner has provided us with 100-page rule book. Some of the important pages have been scanned here for the benefit of readers. (According to him, a person who travels abroad MUST READ this 100-page booklet !) - Click Here
NRIs Concern :
Mangalore: Export Certificate - 'Passport' to Trouble at Airport