A 22-year-old man, who was rescued from a sealed container carrying shoes just before the consignment was to be shipped to New York from Nhava Sheva on Saturday, was let off by the police after a few hours.
Farooq Ahamad, originally from Assam, joined the shoe company in Mira Road around 10 months ago, while his uncle has been working with the company for more than two years now. The police said Ahamad fell asleep inside the container on the company premises as he was tired. “Ahmad fell asleep inside the container around 2am on Saturday. The excise officers sealed it without a proper check. It is a case of negligence,” said an officer from the Nhava Sheva police station.
The police handed him over to his uncle after a detailed interrogation. “The excise officials should have checked the container. We have called them for questioning on Monday,” said Babasaheb Budhwant, assistant commissioner of police.
“We have not recovered anything from Ahamad. If he had plans to flee the country illegally, he would not have banged on the container door to get rescued. It takes more than 25 days to reach the US from India using the sea route. No one can stay alive inside a container for so long,” he said.
A senior Customs official from JNPT said, “According to the rules, a designated range officer of the excise department should check the container minutely before sealing and sending them to the ports. Usually, one officer has to check more than 10 containers. Taking advantage of this loophole, sandalwood and drugs are illegally exported from India.”
“What if someone planted weapons or explosives in the container? The international community would have questioned India’s intention,” he said.
The police are not sure if Ahamad was drunk at the time of the incident. “He was rescued after 10 hours of staying inside the container.”
Rukmini Galande, senior inspector, Nhava Sheva police station, said, “We will call all agencies involved and conduct a detailed inquiry in this case. We have summoned a few officials on Monday.”