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Naveeta Singh for Mumbai Mirror

  • He suspects his baggage was tampered with and ‘a costly camcorder, two mobile phones’ stolen from it

Mumbai, May 11: Fear of Customs officials at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport cost chef Javed Ahmed Rs 25,000. Ahmed who suspected his baggage had been tampered with during transit did not check the suitcases at the airport for fear that Customs officials will harass him. He discovered that gifts and electronic items worth Rs 25,000 had been stolen from his bag only after he reached home.

On May 8, Ahmed, 28, who works as a chef in Singapore landed in Mumbai at 11pm by Malaysia Airlines flight MH-194. After collecting his two checked-in baggage from the conveyor belt he moved to the Customs area. Ahmed says, “I saw that one of my suitcases had scratch marks as if someone had tampered with it.”

Javed Ahmed works as a chef in Singapore

However, Ahmed was too scared to open the suitcase there and clear his doubts.

He says, “I thought if I opened my bag in the Customs area the officials would pounce on me and ask me to pay duty under some pretext or other. “I have often seen this happening to others and did not want to be a victim.”

So after completing all the formalities Javed left for his residence at Vile Parle, where friends and relatives were waiting to meet him. After dinner with family he was too tired to open his suitcase and forgot about the issue.

The next morning when he opened the suitcase to give presents to his family, he was shocked. “I had bought a costly cam-corder, two Nokia mobile phones which were missing,” he says.

“The thieves did not spare even the imported chocolates which I had bought for my children and a perfume bottle for my wife.”

On Thursday Ahmed lodged a complaint with the Sahar police and the airline. A senior police official from Sahar said, “We have registered a missing baggage complaint and are looking into the matter.”

“I and my friends in Singapore often talk about how Customs officials harass passengers at Mumbai airport. But this was my first experience,” he says.

G Ravindranath, Additional Commissioner of Customs, said Ahmed need not have feared customs officials if the worth of the goods did not exceed Rs 25,000.

Ravindranath said, “If officials charge arbitrarily or harass passengers, they should immediately meet the Deputy Commissioner of Customs who is available 24 hours at the airport. If they complain immediately we can do something as no crucial time is lost.”

"The thieves did not even spare the imported chocolates I had bought for my children", said Javed.


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