Fights between the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Customs is quite common.
Often, the main cause for disagreement is when the Customs arrest a smuggler arriving from a foreign country, with an accomplice waiting outside the airport premises. Customs officials claim that the CISF does not allow them to take the accomplice inside the airport for interrogation without a valid pass.
Though the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issues the passes, the problem occurs when the arrest is made late in the night or early in the morning. “During such hours the BCAS staff is not present to issue passes,” a source said.
On September 14, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Customs arrested a 60-year-old man trying to smuggle 1kg gold worth Rs30.34 lakh from Dubai. He had arrived from Dubai by an Air India flight at 4.30am.
The accused revealed the name of a 35-year-old jeweller waiting for him outside the airport. The AIU officials went to pick him up, but it took them two hours to enter the airport premises as the CISF refused to let the man in without a pass.
Earlier on August 8, 2011, the Customs had arrested three Gujarat-based fishermen who were trying to smuggle 22kg saffron worth Rs22 lakh from Dubai. They were to deliver the saffron to another person waiting outside. Similar issues had occurred at the time.
According to sources, in 2007, senior Customs authorities had written to the BCAS to issue 10 to 12 blank passes to the department. “This way, a Customs official carrying a blank pass could then take somebody inside the airport premises,” said an official, who worked at the airport at the time.
According to the official, the main idea was to take informers inside the airport to identify smugglers. The proposal is still gathering dust.
However, CISF officials dismissed the argument as a “small issue”. “The passes are issued by the airport operator or the BCAS. That rules out any scope of argument with us,” said a senior CISF official.