Indian customs officers smash Dh200k watch, says traveller from Dubai

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - Ismail was then returning home to Bhatkal in Karnataka via Kozhikode after meeting with his brother in Dubai.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 11 Mar 2021, 3:14 PM

Muhammad Ismail just got back to India from a visit to Dubai when he experienced a horrific ordeal at the Karipur International Airport.

He was travelling with a Dh200,000 watch on his wrist — but next thing he knew, his Audemars Piguet was already on a plate, ‘smashed’ in six pieces.

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Ismail was then returning home to Bhatkal in Karnataka via Kozhikode after meeting with his brother in Dubai. He was on his way out of the Karipur airport when customs officers allegedly stopped him and asked him to take the watch off.

“They suspected I was trying to smuggle gold by hiding it in the watch,” Ismail said, recalling the ordeal which happened last week after he disembarked from an Air India Express flight.

“Officials took the watch in a room, where they smashed it into pieces using a hammer. When nothing was found, the broken pieces of watch were placed on a plate and returned to me,” he said.

When a shell-shocked Ismail asked officials to return his watch in its original condition, they took it from him and offered a compensation of Dh50,000. Khaleej Times has reached out to India’s Karipur Airport for comment, and a response is awaited.

A case in this regard has also been filed at a police station in Kozhikode and has been escalated to senior customs officials.

The luxury Audemars Piguet watch was a gift from Ismail’s brother Ibrahim, who runs a business in Dubai. “The watch has been in my family since 2017. My brother purchased it for Dh226,000. Now, it is in six separate pieces. I had to wait at the airport for nearly eight hours because of this,” he said.

“I have an original receipt for the watch, and it clearly states that it is worth over Dh200,000. Either they return that money or return the original watch...How much gold can I smuggle in a watch? Officials should think things through.”

A Kozhikode-based social worker KM Basheer shared a video of Ismail’s ordeal on social media, which has since gone viral. “In such expensive watches, sometimes, there will be small amounts of gold or diamonds. They could’ve seized the watch or demanded that the passenger pay duty for it or called a professional technician to inspect the watch instead of smashing it into pieces,” he said.

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