Sunday, May 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

2 Lahore bus passengers held
From Our Correspondent and UNI

WAGAH, May 6 — Vigilant customs officers seized two China-made .9mm pistols from two Delhi-bound passengers, of the Lahore-New Delhi bus today during checking at this joint check post (JCP). Both the pistols were loaded and had eight cartridges. Two Indian nationals have been arrested in this connection.

Customs officials told The Tribune that Mirza Qamar Abbas, (30), a resident of New Salempur in Delhi and his mother Hyderi Begum, were taken into custody when Customs officers found the arms concealed in the false bottom of a water cooler during routine search. Abbas was allegedly carrying the cooler when he approached the Customs counter for baggage checking.

The Joint Commissioner, Customs, Mr M.S. Arora, said the officers got suspicious when they found the dry fruit in the water cooler that was filled with raisins.

Mr Arora said Assistant Commissioner Harcharan Singh, in charge of the Customs post here, ordered the cooler to be emptied and weighed. As it was found heavier than usual, Mr Harcharan Singh instructed his officials to break it open, he added.

The false bottom in which the weapons wrapped in carbon paper were found concealed was filled with grease. He said adding X-ray machines had failed to detect the hidden contraband.

According to Mr Arora, preliminary interrogation of the two accused revealed that the cooler was handed over to them in Lahore at the site from where the bus begins its return journey to India. The accused were promised Rs 2,000 for the safe delivery of the consignment to a certain contact in New Delhi, he claimed.

The Customs officer claimed that the attempt was probably aimed at testing the alertness of Customs staff at the check post.

Later, the bus started for its onward journey to New Delhi behind schedule as the baggage of all passengers as also the DTC coach were checked twice.

This is the first reported case of misuse of the Delhi Transport Corporation-operated bus for smuggling purposes. The bus is the same in which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee undertook a historic trip across the border in February last year to inaugurate the bus service between the two countries.

The last attempt to smuggle in weapons was made on board the Samjhauta Express in Feburary. Five pistols were then seized from the toilet of a compartment of the train during checking at Attari station.Back

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