Man in wheelchair tries to smuggle in watches, caught | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Man in wheelchair tries to smuggle in watches, caught

Fifty-eight year-old Champalal Jain thought that since he was wheelchair-bound, he could sneak out of the international airport with 45 high-end watches worth Rs7 lakh without arousing suspicion. But a Rolex watch strapped on his wrist spoiled his game plan and he landed up in the net of custom officials.

mumbai Updated: Apr 28, 2011 01:17 IST
Manish Pachouly

Fifty-eight year-old Champalal Jain thought that since he was wheelchair-bound, he could sneak out of the international airport with 45 high-end watches worth Rs7 lakh without arousing suspicion. But a Rolex watch strapped on his wrist spoiled his game plan and he landed up in the net of custom officials.

Additional commissioner of customs, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), Mahendra Pal confirmed the incident. A batch of custom officials, headed by deputy commissioner Sameer Wankhede caught Jain after he arrived from Dubai on a Kingfisher Airlines flight at Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport on early Tuesday morning.

He was intercepted while he was crossing the green channel without declaring the watches. Only a passenger who does not have any valuables to declare is allowed to walk through the green channel.

Customs officials found Jain to be acutely diabetic and in poor health. A customs official who requested anonymity said that Jain picked three loaders at the airport who would push his wheelchair and carry his luggage. “He did this to present himself as a big business personality. He thought that his ailing frame would deter custom officials from questioning him,” the official said.

Officials said that while Jain was crossing the green channel, they noticed a Rolex watch on his wrist. “Jain said that the Rolex was a gift,” the official said. Suspecting foul play, officials opened Jain’s bag and found 45 high-end watches including those of international brands such as Kolber, Cartier, Seiko, Omega and Franck Muller. Jain tried to dodge custom authorities saying that he is has a fetish for high-end watches and has the right to buy any number of watches.

“He then changed his statement, saying that he bought these watches for his son’s showroom in Mumbai,” the official said. Authorities feel that the Franck Muller watch is a copy while other watches are originals. However, Jain in his statement said none of the watches are originals. The authorities have called for an expert to ascertain the veracity of his claims. After recording his statement and seizing the watches, customs authorities allowed Jain to leave the airport on Tuesday evening.

Customs authorities are trying to find the person for whom these watches had been bought. The authorities also suspect that Jain could be a carrier. The case is presently being investigated by the AIU.