Customs searched my son and committed excesses, says PV MP Abdul Wahab

Rajya Sabha MP PV Abdul Wahab has alleged that his son was stopped and strip searched by customs without following due process at the international airport here. The alleged incident took place on November 1 when the MP’s son returned from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, after attending a wedding abroad.

Wahab said there may have been many reasons to arouse suspicion and they would also have included a beard his son was sporting, but that was not the reason for the strip search.

“Strip searches are not the norm. There is something called social profiling. Suspicions can be aroused for various reasons. Maybe someone gave something in writing, maybe the name appeared on the computer, my son has a beard – maybe that was a reason. This is part of the procedure to check if you are suspicious. But there is something called social profiling that can be done before you strip search someone,” he said in his speech at a recent event and the incident was reported in the media.

The IUML MP said he had forwarded a complaint to the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, asking for investigation and appropriate action, if possible, related to customs control.

Wahab claimed customs officials were overbearing and took her son to hospital here, where he was strip searched and x-rayed before being taken back to the airport.

“According to the information I have received, such an extreme measure requires the approval of a magistrate. Customs officers cannot do this themselves as it is a violation of the right to privacy and there are procedures in place for this in the customs rules,” he told PTI.

Customs, not reacting officially to the MP’s allegations, maintained that officials at the airport were only doing their duty and that inspections had been intensified in view of the increase in incidents of smuggled gold since the foreign.

A source at Customs, speaking on condition of anonymity, told PTI, “…Given the increase in incidents of smuggling gold at airports, the agency has intensified its efforts to stem these incidents.” There have also been instances where gold has been smuggled by concealing it in body cavities, the source said.

Meanwhile, some local media, citing customs officials, said Wahab’s son had not been strip searched and there was a surveillance circular (LOC) against him.

The MP said his son was strip searched in hospital and denied knowledge of any LOC.

He said officials knew the detained person was the son of an MP, a businessman and a company director.

He said that while it was acceptable to intercept and detain someone at the airport on grounds of suspicion or complaint or because of their name being flagged on the computer, measures such as searching nude and x-ray was an extreme measure.

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