Rs1.44-cr gold booked on Air India vanishes

A 'high value' courier package containing gold bars and ornaments worth Rs1.44 crore was ''missing'' – undoubtedly stolen – from the Air India cargo warehouse at the Santa Cruz domestic airport, on Thursday morning.

Sanjay Babulal Jain, owner of courier agency Marudhar Express Service Pvt Ld based at Kalbadevi, in South Mumbai, got a shock on being informed by the staff at the cargo section of Air India that his parcel despatched from Hyderabad was missing.

The company frequently handles valuable packages for Mumbai's jewellery merchants. Only hours earlier, a colleague from the Hyderabad branch of Marudhar Express had booked the valuables on board the Mumbai-bound Flight AI 527.

''It was shocking and unbelievable,'' said Jain. He was referring not only to the loss of the gold, but the fact that the airport police filed an official complaint only on Tuesday, almost five days after he had approached them on Thursday when the consignment went missing.

According to police, an initial probe shows that the consignment did arrive at the AI cargo section, with some staff members claiming to have seen it in four packets. But these four packets went missing after their arrival at Mumbai airport.

Their investigation revealed that the parcel was unloaded from the aircraft in Mumbai, placed in the cargo trolley to be brought to the cargo room, and went missing from the Air India cargo room, the police added.