More than a month after a Londonbound flyer mysteriously disappeared from the Mumbai International Airport minutes before boarding the flight, police say the passenger could have been a Sri Lankan national residing in the UK on asylum.
The security agencies, including the Customs and the Immigration, panicked when it emerged that the flyer, Christephen Vinod Raj, who was booked on a British Airways flight BA 198 on August 2, walked out of the airport while the airline officials checked his passport (UK bound flyer 'escapes' from airport (Mumbai Mirror, September 7).
The Immigration sources said that Raj was carrying a passport issued by a European nation, and the airline sources wanted to check its authenticity.
Compounding the mystery, a person named Christephen Vinod Raj flew to Kathmandu on Jet Airways flight 9W 266, the same day, using an Indian passport.
The security agencies suspected the man who flew to Kathmandu was the same person booked on a British Airways flight, and that he held multiple passports.
Two men, identified as Vincent and Swami, were arrested from the Delhi airport on September 3 in connection with the case, and their interrogation revealed that they were part of a gang that helped Sri Lankan nationals, mostly asylum seekers, fly to the destination of their choice from Mumbai.
Inspector Ravi Patil from Sahar Police Station said, "We suspect a racket involving foreign nationals and fake passports. We are also investigating whether those involved have any links with LTTE, or other such organisations."
The CCTV camera footage obtained from the Mumbai airport showed Christephen Vinod Raj exiting the terminal without any checks. The person who flew to Kathmandu is also untraceable.
A Mumbai Police source said, "Several Sri Lankan asylum seekers, as well as those who have already been granted asylum, prefer Mumbai as a stopover because their friends and family members in Sri Lanka find it convenient to travel to the city. In fact, the security agencies have a list containing names of several such people." (Mumbai Mirror)