Two customs officials accused of sexual assault on Uzbek woman, suspended

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 6/17/2019 1:35:37 AM

NEW DELHI, June 16: Two senior customs officials posted at Delhi airport have been suspended for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman from Uzbekistan who was visiting India for medical treatment of a relative, officials said.
The matter came to light last month when a complaint was lodged by a whistleblower to senior officials at the airport who then started the probe. Meanwhile, a pseudonymous complaint was also emailed to the office of Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey informing him about the incident.
The complainant, citing a brief detail of the case, requested the Revenue Secretary that the matter be looked into with utmost priority. The top officer in the revenue department was also requested to bring the culprit to justice to set an example for before other public servants, who the complaint described as "wolves in the skin of sheep". The copy of the complaint was then forwarded to the officer concerned in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the top policy making body for the customs department.
Two Superintendents of customs officials posted at the airport were then suspended by the authorities for their alleged involvement in the sexual assault, the officials said. Giving details of the case, they said that one of the accused official stopped the Uzbek woman upon her arrival from Tashkent on May 3, for checking of her baggage for any suspected smuggled goods. He then took her to a room, which has no CCTV camera, and spent about half an hour there without being accompanied by any women officer, they said.
It is alleged that the Superintendent, who is in his early 50s, sexually assaulted the woman, who had come for treatment of her sister's child admitted at a private hospital in Delhi, the officials said. The woman had lodged a complaint with the customs authorities but retracted later after she is alleged to have been threatened of being fabricated in a false case of smuggling, besides threat to her life by the accused officer, they said.
The customs authorities at the Delhi airport, who are tight-lipped about the entire incident, are still looking into the matter. However, it is not confirmed whether or not the customs department has approached Delhi Police, reporting the alleged crime. While enquiring into the allegations against the Superintendent, a role of another officer of the same-rank had come to the notice of the authorities.
The duo were then suspended by the customs department pending a detailed probe. It is also alleged that the Uzbek woman, who can hardly speak English, is under tremendous strain and hesitant in reporting the assault in view of the alleged threats.
"The incident depicts a horrific picture. No one knows how many women may have been assaulted by such officers on the pretext of baggage search for any suspected smuggling," a woman staffer posted at the airport said on condition of anonymity. Customs officials randomly stop passengers to check their baggage or for personal search to foil any attempt of smuggling at the Delhi airport.



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