A Sri Lankan citizen was arrested at the departure area of the international airport in Andheri in Mumbai with about US $85,000 (almost Rs 56 lakh) after a drama lasting about an hour and a half early on Friday.
The Colombo-bound passenger, Mohammed Sajehan, caught the eye of officials of the Airport Intelligence Unit (AIU) of customs when he was trying to hurry into the aircraft close to departure time. Alerted by this behavior that sleuths said is typical of currency smugglers, officials stopped him. A jumpy Sajehan first denied he was carrying any contraband but later admitted he was carrying $40,000. The sleuths suspected he might be carrying more and asked him to accompany them to their office. At that moment he started screaming and all hell broke loose.
He refused to move from the spot and began shouting that he was being targeted since he is from a minority community. When officers insisted he cooperate with them, he held on to a nearby chair and refused to go. Suddenly, he kneeled down and began offering prayers at the spot, forcing the officers to keep their hands off. The area is under CCTV coverage.
Finally, after much persuasion, Sajehan agreed to go with “police officials”. The sleuths called in their constable in uniform from the office, who finally took Sajehan into custody. He was later released on bail.
About $80,000 were found wrapped in newspapers and concealed in cardboard packing of bedsheets and ladies suit pieces in his baggage. Another $4,500 was found on him during a search.
Sajehan later told the customs officials that four days ago, he went to Colombo from Singapore with the currency. He then came to Mumbai to exchange it, assuming he would get a good exchange rate. But he was unable to exchange the dollars at authorized centres as he was not carrying the required documents. He was returning to Colombo when he was intercepted.