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Seizures at Darukhana (1982)

2 officers, 2 sepoys were posted for night patrolling of Darukhana area along with a patrolling jeep, a service revolver and a walkie talkie set. I was posted for this special squad for month of September 1982 along with I.O. A. N. Deole and Sepoys No 55 & 632. Our duty was on 2nd September night, which was Ganapati emersion day. I knew that this night will be very crucial since smugglers take advantage of paucity of patrolling staff on these type of holidays. So I decided to be more careful and alert while patrolling Darukhana area, which is known to be very sensitive and dangerous area in the night. We completed our first round by 10 pm. I discussed with others regarding strategy to be followed for that night patrol. I generally avoid continuously patrolling area in routine way and on routine route, since we are watched by the anti social elements. We decided to take some rest and parked our jeep at Ghas bunder in the dark to hoodwink person keeping watch on us. I had experience that generally smugglers become active during 2-4 am timing since all watch and ward staff become lethargic and sleepy in this period. Even the activities in the area also come to nearly standstill in this period. We decided to patrol on our feet. When we were proceeding to sand wharf side I could sense some suspicious activities and hence decided to take a parallel road to the sand wharf instead of normal road used by patrolling staff. This presence of mind taking different route than normal was very effective, since no one noticed us as we were on our feet. Around 2 am we saw nearly 40-50 persons moving very suspiciously and in hurry, as if to complete some work fast. Suspecting their movements, we took position behind a timber godown so that we can watch their movements without noticing they us. Around 3 am we noticed 2 Ambassador cars going in speed to the wharf side, which confirmed our suspicion that some landing of contraband goods will be carried out in the pitched dark night. Immediately a sepoy was sent to get the jeep for us. We observed that few persons had opened the dickies of the cars and were loading some packages in it. On getting our jeep I instructed driver Tiwari to proceed towards the wharf and parked the jeep in such a way that the road is blocked fully for any vehicle to move out. In the meantime I loaded the service revolver with cartridges. On noticing us some people started throwing stones at us to prevent us from proceeding. I challenged them but of no effect. Hence I decided to open a round in air from the revolver and aimed it at them. This act of mine worked since they expected that we had come absolutely prepared. All persons started running away in the pitched dark night, since they were daily paid labourers. We came nearer to the cars which were kept with running engines. I instructed Tiwari to put off the engines and take over the keys. Both cars were being loaded with some packages. Thereafter we came on the wharf. It was so dark that hardly anything can be seen. We had only one torch. We noticed that many packages were scattered on the wharf and a craft (trawler) with engine on was near the wharf in sea water. I could make out that contraband goods were being offloaded from the craft. Since low tide had started the craft had started drifting in the sea water. I immediately instructed the driver and a sepoy to board the craft and put off the engine and tie the craft to the shore so that it will not drift in sea. When the crew sensed what was happening on the wharf, they jumped in the sea and vanished. We could notice many packages similar to the packages loaded in the cars.

The initial sensation of finding the contraband was over and the reality of the situation was on our minds. In this dark night we were only 5 of us with 1 revolver and 2 lathis with sepoys. I. O. Deole was in total shock with firing of 1 round in air. The 2 sepoys were also new recruits. I instructed the driver to go to Sewree Police station to get immediate support for safety and security for us and packages.  After the driver left I realized the grave situation we were in. Initially the landing agent may have thought that we had full information about the landing and we had come fully prepared in good number of officers and with weapons. But we were only 4 of us. And from that movement our test of temperament and courage started. We started shouting loudly and hitting the lathis on wharf to give impression that we were in good numbers and had come fully prepared. That idea worked in that dark night. However till we got support from the police, all of us were marking time. Had they noticed only 4-5 of us then it would have been very easy job for them to kill us and throw in the sea water. We were lucky to get some police personnel immediately. We all were relieved and prayed God. I instructed I.O. Deole to go to police station again to inform higher ups about the finding of contraband and to get some additional customs staff from Custom House for help. Supdt. Shri R. D. Shinde i/c Night Mobile squad alongwith I.O. Gite and sepoy No 250 arrived on the scene and gave very valuable assistance. All packages were off loaded from the craft and dickies of cars and marked with serial nos. In all 145 packages were then loaded in a hired truck which was brought to custom house for completing seizure formalities. I.O. Deole and a sepoy were asked to guard the craft.

All 145 packages were found to contain wrist watches and textile foreign origin valued at Rs 32,96,275/- CIF and M.V. Rs 77,19,825/-and 2 Ambassador cars and the craft valued at Rs 25,000/- each were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act.

Ambassador Car Nos MRJ 5896 & MRY 6404. Craft registration No THN 464.

File No S/14-4-870/82 Pint.

The special feature of this seizure is it was without any information and effected with a planned design of not following routine practice of patrolling with limited and absolutely new staff. It was with exemplary courage and at the risk of life.

A commendation letter dated 14-09-1982 was given by Shri N. B. Sonawane, the Commissioner of Customs, Preventive.


25/01/2023 10:40:49 AM

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