A K Banerjee : Are drugs slipping through?

X-Ray machines at make-up area and departure at IGI Airport, Delhi have so far failed to detect drugs. A reason could be that Customs officials are not posted there 


In recent times, the Customs officials have seized many consignments of drugs. However, the trend shows that they have seized only ketamine, and not heroin or hashish like earlier.

No doubt, the officials deserve a pat on their back as all seizures have been done by them on the basis of intelligence inputs and largely due to their professional skills and approach.

They have, at the IGI Airport, New Delhi, also unearthed a few new modus operandi in the smuggling of ketamine.

In one case, the carrier had hidden the consigment in a steel drum in the check-in baggage. On profiling the passenger and thereafter calling his baggage for detailed examination, the officials initially noticed nothing abnormal. However, when the Customs official saw the drums and its weight, they became suspicious and broke open the drum only to find another cavity where the ketamine was concealed.

In another case, ketamine was seized from the cavity of a milk cooker.

Sources in the Customs say that the X-ray machines installed a few years ago

at the departure and the make-up area have not detected any consignment of drugs so far.

One of the reasons for this could be that the machines are not manned by the Customs officials who have the expertise in detection of drugs. At the make-up area, GMRofficials man the X-ray machine.

It is rather desirable that the X-ray machine there should jointly be manned by the Customs and GMR?officials.

Sources in the Customs also said that the X-ray machine installed at the departure is being manned by the CISF staff with, again, no  Customs staff being posted there. No doubt, the CISF  has the expertise  in operating the X-ray machine as far as detection of explosives and firearms are concerned, but how far are they capable of detecing  drugs  and other narcotics is questionable. For, till date they have reportedly not detected any consignment of drugs.

There have been several instances when baggages rejected by the X-ray machine at the departure terminal is sent to the make-up area, where the two X-ray machines manned by the GMR?staff, has cleared those baggages. Here, too, no custo­ms official is posted.

It is also being said that the X-ray machine at the make-up area is not as effective as it is in other countries or the personnel manning them lack the requisite skills.

It has also been learnt that the GMR officials at the make-up area are only looking for drugs and not for priceless antiques — like paintings, coins, sculptures, etc.— going out of the country. They claim that they have no direction to look for antiques from the Customs.

The X-ray machine installed on conveyor belt number 4 and 5 is said to be faulty as the baggage officer of the Customs cannot mark the baggage himself without the assistance of another officer. 

The X-ray machine installed at belt number 6 too has been posing a problem with the Customs officer having to jump over the machine to go to the other side.