The murder of an NRI businessman who was robbed after being abducted from outside the domestic terminal of IGI airport has brought to light illegal racket run by taxi operators around the airport.
Though police claim they crack down on touts who dupe passengers by offering them cheaper rides, away from the taxi queue, a lot remains to be done.
On October 10, NRI businessman K.T. Shameer (39) had hired a taxi from outside the arrival lounge of the airport around 9.30 p.m.
The two accused — Manish Singh and Monu Singh — who were arrested for the murder, told the police that Shameer wanted to go to a hotel in Delhi. The victim had come to Delhi to meet some business acquaintances.
Though police said the black and yellow Ambassador used in the crime had not been hired from the pre-paid counter inside the airport, it had a valid permit to ply in the city. The taxi was registered in the name of Manish’s elder brother.
“We maintain a record of taxis hired from the pre-paid counter but not the ones hired by the passengers themselves. The taxi hired by Shameer was in the queue outside the arrival lounge. When he saw Shameer looking for a taxi, he walked up to him and offered to take him to a good hotel nearby,” said a senior police officer.
M.K. Afzal, Shameer’s brother-in-law who lives in Kerala, lodged a complaint with the police on October 14 when he found both the mobile phones of the victim were switched off.
The accused had withdrawn Rs 2 lakh from Shameer’s debit card belonging to Al Razi Bank of Saudi Arabia.
To combat such instances Delhi Police has asked airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) to install CCTV cameras at the arrival lounge and the parking lots at the airport.
“We convened a meeting with DIAL authorities and have asked them to install CCTV cameras outside the arrival lounge so that we can keep a track on the movement of passengers outside the airport as well,” said Amulya Patnaik, Joint Commissioner of Police (operations).
In August this year, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police had arrested five men who operated outside the airport.
The accused would target passengers outside the domestic terminal and offer them a cheap ride, sometimes as low as Rs 10.
“Once the passenger got inside the car, they would threaten the person to wear the taped glasses or get shot. The gang would not only take away the cash, jewellery and cell phone of the victim but also ask them to give their ATM as well as the credit card. For the next three to four hours they drive around the city and buy a few luxury items with the robbed credit cards. All this while the victim is held hostage in the car,” said a senior police officer.
Police said the accused, all residents of Mehram Nagar in south Delhi, took to the crime as they wanted to make easy money.