Air India’s lax security in the cargo complex of the domestic airport, where goods worth crores are dropped and taken every day, has cost it dear.
Four armed robbers struck the airlines’ cargo depot on Monday morning and fled with part of a Rs 55-lakh consignment of gold and silver coins.
The valuation of the stolen coins is yet to be done, but the police have pegged it at around Rs 35-40 lakh.
The car also hit a security guard, who was going home after duty, while fleeing. He later died in the hospital.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said: “We have identified the four accused and will arrest them soon.”
At 10.30 am, Jogeshwari-based National Refinery clerk Dilip Borkar (63), accompanied by a peon and driver, brought a consignment of six aluminium boxes to be flown to Hyderabad for Pidilite Industries.
After completing the paper work, when Borkar and his colleagues were placing the boxes inside the screening machine, two men, who were in their early 20s, rushed towards them from behind, holding their revolvers high. Their faces were covered with handkerchiefs.
They struck some of those standing near the machine, including Borkar, with revolvers’ butts. “I got a blow on my left eye and fell,” he said.
Immediately, a white Indica drove close. The duo put four boxes inside the car, in which two others were sitting with the engine running, jumped in and drove towards the gate.
“I tried to see the car number, but could not as my spectacles had fallen,” said Borkar.
Hearing screams, security guard S.D. Bhosle, who was going home, tried to stop the car, but was dragged for at least 50 metres, the police said.
Bhosle was rushed to Guru Nanak hospital with a ruptured skull and multiple fractures in the rib cage. He died in the evening.
Though the cargo complex is located just 250 m away from the Airport police station, it took the police over 15 minutes to reach the spot.
Even the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and private guards failed to stop the car.
Eyewitnesses said the four men had entered the AI cargo premises in an Indica through the Jet Airways gate.
Senior Inspector Somnath Ghoge, of the Airport police station, said: “The security at the Jet Airways cargo gate was lax. They did not record the entry of the Indica.”
Sanjay Prakash, senior commandant, CISF, said: “It is the first robbery in the cargo area.”