Bengaluru, Mar 13: Two immigration officers of Kempegowda International Airport were arrested on Sunday for allegedly aiding smuggling of gold bars and ornaments. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence sleuths caught one of them receiving 3kg gold from a Malaysian passenger in an airport toilet.
Praveen Kumar and PD Katkar, sub-inspectors with the Bureau of Immigration, were to allegedly hand over the consignment to rackete ers outside the airport. "Acting on a tipoff that KIA insiders were part of a smuggling racket, we stationed our men at key points," a DRI investigating officer said about the operation.
Around 9.10 am on Sunday , a couple -Arjunanan Velu and Shanti Narayanan -ar rived at KIA by a Malaysian Airline flight (MH-104) with 3kg gold worth Rs 90 lakh. Velu, a Malaysian national, went to the toilet near the passenger immigration counter; his wife, an Indian passport holder, waited outside.
"Around 9.30am, a man met Velu in a toilet. Velu han ded him a pouch with 2kg gold bars and the rest in ornaments. Our sleuths nabbed the duo in the restroom," the officer added.
The man who accepted the smuggled goods was identified as immigration officer Katkar. During questioning, the officer allegedly said he was acting on colleague Praveen Kumar's instructions.The officers, who face no stringent frisking because they enjoy a degree of immunity, had planned to slip the goods out and hand them over to a smuggling gang outside the premises. Smugglers had allegedly promised the immigration officers huge sums of money for the job. The passengers were arrested and then remanded in judicial custody.
The couple claimed they were under pressure to act as conduits and said it was their first attempt.The role of immigration officers in the racket seems to be deeprooted. "We suspect a nexus between Indian smugglers and the apprehended immigration officials," a senior DRI officer said.
A probe is under way on the possible involvement of other Bengaluru airport officials in the racket.