In a shocking turn of events, two employees of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport have been apprehended by the Sahar police on charges of confining a passenger and attempting to extort money from her. The incident, which occurred on August 4, has raised concerns about the safety & integrity of airport staff.
The arrested individuals have been identified as Snehal Gaikwad, a female cleaning staffer, and Dayanand Bhable, a private security guard. The victim, Jumana Sadriwala, a 55-year-old homemaker and spouse of a garment seller hailing from Vasai, found herself at the center of this distressing incident. Sadriwala had recently returned from Sharjah, bringing with her two bags containing gold dust that she had obtained by converting a gold idol.
The unfortunate ordeal began when Sadriwala, on her return to Mumbai after observing Moharram, made her way to the bathroom on Level P6 of the airport. It was here that fate took a cruel twist. She accidentally dropped one of her precious pouches, containing 300 grams of gold dust, in the restroom. The pouch was discovered by the alert cleaning staffer, Snehal Gaikwad, who, instead of returning the lost item, chose to exploit the situation.
Gaikwad coerced Sadriwala into discarding the pouch in the garbage by issuing a chilling threat. She warned Sadriwala that if she did not comply, she would report her as a gold smuggler to the airport’s security personnel. Frightened by the prospect of such an accusation, Sadriwala obliged. She had no idea that this was only the beginning of her terrible experience.
Sadriwala’s nightmare worsened despite following Gaikwad’s directions and disposing of the bag. Gaikwad recruited the assistance of a female security guard to create a threatening situation. The security guards searched Sadriwala, only to worsen the issue by bringing in more guards. Sadriwala and her driver, Vinod Yadav, were escorted to Level P5, where they were subjected to more harassment.
Vinod Yadav, sensing something was awry, dared to question the actions of the guards. This audacious act led to even more dire threats. The guards, leveraging their authority, menaced the duo by warning them that they would be reported as smugglers. Fearing the repercussions of such allegations, Sadriwala and Yadav succumbed to the guards’ coercive tactics.
The guards intended ₹50,000 from the innocent victims in an act of exploitation and abuse of power. The guards had clearly preyed on their fear and vulnerability taking advantage of it. As a result of the pressure, Sadriwala and Yadav decided to make the payment via online transfer. The guards, however, refused this sort of payment, instead taking an expensive ring from Yadav before finally letting them go. The entire horrific happening was captured on the airport’s CCTV system.
Shaken by their ordeal, Sadriwala and Yadav took immediate action. On August 5, they approached the Sahar police and lodged a formal complaint detailing their traumatic experience. The case was taken up by DCP (Zone VIII) Dikshit Gedam, who directed Senior Inspector Sanjay Govilkar of the Sahar police to investigate further. With Gedam’s guidance, the police collected crucial evidence, including the CCTV footage from the CISF, which played a pivotal role in identifying & arresting the culprits.
After a thorough examination of the evidence, including the CCTV recordings and witness statements, the police apprehended Snehal Gaikwad and Dayanand Bhable on charges related to the incident. The investigation uncovered a disturbing twist: Gaikwad had covertly converted the stolen gold dust into a gold ring and chain shortly after the original incident.
A shocking discovery awaited Sadriwala when she, accompanied by Yadav, revisited the restroom after their traumatic encounter. The gold dust pouch that had been discarded in the garbage bin was mysteriously missing. This unexpected turn of events only added to the complexity of the case.
As the legal proceedings unfold, questions are being raised about the accountability and training of airport staff. This incident serves as a grim reminder of the potential for abuse of power and exploitation when individuals are placed in positions of authority. The distressing experience of Jumana Sadriwala and Vinod Yadav highlights the urgent need for transparency and accountability within the aviation industry.
The arrest of the two accused airport employees sheds light on a concerning episode that exposes vulnerabilities within airport operations. It is hoped that this incident will trigger a renewed focus on training, oversight, and the safety of passengers, ensuring that such distressing events are prevented in the future. As the legal process continues, the victims and their families await justice and a sense of closure that might help them recover from this traumatic ordeal.