Delhi Airport authorities have suspended two senior customs officials for sexually assaulting a woman who was visiting India from Uzbekistan for medical treatment of a relative last month, officials said, TOI reported. The incident happened at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on May 3.

They said that one of the officials stopped the Uzbek woman upon her arrival from Tashkent to check her baggage for any suspected smuggled goods. He then took her to a room, which had no CCTV camera, and spent about half an hour there without being accompanied by any women officer, they said. The accused Superintendent is said to be in his early 50s allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, who had come for treatment of her sister’s child admitted at a private hospital in Delhi, the officials said.

Initially, an eyewitness reported the matter to senior airport authorities who then started the investigation. Then after that, the woman also came forward and filed a formal complaint with the customs department accusing the superintendent of sexual misconduct. While she lodged the complaint, it has been reported that she had to retrieve it later following alleged threats that she would be implicated in false smuggling cases. The woman also allegedly faced a threat to her life by the accused customs officer.

When the authorities started enquiring into the matter, the role of another senior official was also exposed. Both the officials have now been suspended from their jobs.

“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, India Today quoted her saying.

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The officials in the customs department at IGI airport did not speak up on the matter, according to media reports. But they say they are still probing the matter. It is also elusive whether the department has approached Delhi Police to report the alleged crime.

A complaint has also been sent to the 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.

This isn’t the only complaint of sexual assault against the accused superintendent as an HT article reported that a Customs superintendent was suspended for sexually harassing two foreigner women passengers while there was probe already going on against him after the officials received an email from a Delhi resident who alleged that a woman was “raped, sexually harassed and molested” by the officer on May 3.

Additional Commissioner of Customs at the Delhi airport, Amandeep Singh, said the officer was suspended on May 4 and a departmental inquiry 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.

“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,”

“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,” a senior customs 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.

Picture credit: Democratznews

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