Customs officer suspended over misconduct allegations
A customs superintendent at the Delhi international airport has been suspended following allegations of misconduct with two foreign women passengers.
Custom officials said the officer had allegedly taken the passengers, travelling separately, to his office without the presence of women officers, which is against the rules.
The department is also probing allegations of sexual assault against the same officer after they received an email from a Delhi resident who alleged that a woman was “raped, sexually harassed and molested” by the officer on May 3.
The alleged incidents took place on May 3. The two women have, however, not filed any complaint. Officials said the department has made attempts to contact the women to request them to file a complaint.
Additional commissioner of customs at the Delhi airport, Amandeep Singh, said the officer was suspended on May 4 and a departmental enquiry was ordered against him.
“The officer has been suspended for not following the protocol of questioning women passengers in the presence of women officers. We have also come across allegations of sexual assault but we are yet to get evidence,” Singh said.
Custom officials said that the email had been sent to the office of the revenue secretary, under the ministry of finance, on Wednesday.
They have now asked the sender of the email to join the investigation. HT has a copy of this complaint.
Officers said they received a tip-off on May 3 by customs officers who were in the terminal at the time.
Some officials reported to the commissioner, customs, that the superintendent had taken two women passengers at different times to his office without the presence of any female officer.
A senior customs officer, who did not wish to be named, said other officers who were working in the same shift were questioned and CCTV footage was also checked.
“Our investigation revealed that on May 3, around 1.30am, a woman passenger from Turkmenistan who had landed at the Delhi airport was stopped by the superintendent, who asked the woman to cooperate for a detailed frisking on suspicion of smuggling. She was found carrying a gold chain. The superintendent was then seen taking the woman to his office,” the officer said.
The CCTV footage purportedly shows the woman was inside the room for about an hour, the officer said. “Around 7.30am the same day, the same officer stopped a woman from Uzbekistan and took her to his room,” the officer added.
Another officer, privy to the probe, said when the department tried to contact the two women, only the woman from Turkmenistan could be reached. The Uzbek woman had left the country.
“We recorded the statement of the woman from Turkmenistan. She confirmed being in the room for 40 minutes and that there was no female officer. She added that she was later allowed to leave with the gold chain. When asked whether any sexual assault took place, the woman neither confirmed nor denied it,” the officer said, adding they have requested to woman to file a complaint.
A senior officer added that efforts were on to trace the Uzbek woman. When contacted, the superintendent said the complaint against him is not true.
“It was a fake complaint. Let me tell you that my suspension has also been revoked,” he told HT.
Singh, however said the superintendent in question is still under suspension and departmental enquiry is in process.