Face to Face Encounter with Smugglers

Paren N. Desai

Paren DesaiParen N. Desai joined the department as an Inspector of Customs on 11th December, 1985 at Customs Division, Jamnagar, Customs Commisionerate, Ahmedabad.

Paren was promoted as Superintendent of Customs and Central Excise in 2002 and as Assistant Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise in 2017.

Paren worked in Customs, Central Excise, D.R.I., Special Economic Zone and Kandla Custom House during his years of service.

For his detections of recovery of goods and evasion of duty Paren received reward money to the tune of more than 10 lakhs.

Paren played an instrumental role in cases of seizure of 174 silver slabs from near a sunken ship, off Okha coast ; seizure of 500 gold biscuits from the vessel ‘Al-Abed’; seizure of 150 silver slabs from vessel ‘Hanfi’; seizure of 20 kgs. Heroin from Hapa Railway station; seizure of machinery worth 700 crores from Essar Oil Ltd; for detecting illicit removal of goods of more than 2 crores from Omega Elevators, Ahmedabad.

In school and college days, Paren won several prizes in various athletics events at school, college and University level.

Paren Desai, retired as Assistant Commissioner from Central GST, Central Excise and Customs Department on 28th February, 2019.

Face to Face Encounter with Smugglers

It was a sunny afternoon of 22nd March, 1992. Custom officials of Jamnagar Custom Division (Gujarat State) recovered 5 belts of gold biscuits of foreign origin from a country craft vessel named “Safina Al Burhani”. But the evening turned out  to be  very sad, unfortunate and gloomy as we were not knowing what the destiny had in store for us a few kilometers ahead.

In the evening of of 21st March, 1992, I was asked to rush to Okha port and start sea patrolling in between Okha Port to Jakhau Port of Kutch, by Assistant Commissioner Shri D. K. Srinivas Sir to intercept the vessel “Safina Al Burhani” as the same was suspected to be carrying Gold .

Customs boat on  patrol duty on high seas

 Accordingly, along with other staff of Customs I  started sea patrolling in Customs Boat in between Okha Port to Jakhau Port.  The country craft “Safina Al Burhani”  was intercepted by us on 22st March, 1992 in the early morning hours  opposite Kalubhar Island as per the intelligence  . We escorted the ship to   New Port, Jamnagar around 9.00 am on 22nd March, 1992. During the marathon search of the vessel for 5-6 hours, five belts containing gold biscuits of foreign origin were recovered at around 16.00 hrs. on the same day. Tandel Abbas Hasan Sumbhania named  of Haroon Jusab Bhaya as the person  to whom the delivery of the said gold biscuits were to be given.

Asst. Commissioner Srinivas was briefed.  Just as the panchnama was being drawn up, I was asked  to go to Khambhalia/Salaya along with Shri C. G. Jacob, Inspector and other staff to arrest Haroon. .

We left New Port at about 17.15 hrs. for Divisional  office and met  Asst. Commissioner Srinivas .He   briefed us for next course of action  and handed over the  arrest warrant in the name of  Haroon Jusab Bhaya involved in the smuggling of gold biscuits.

Coast line Jamnagar

I left the Division Office, Jamnagar at about 17.30 hrs. along with Shri C. G. Jacob, Inspector, Shri B. K. Trivedi, Inspector, Shri Mahendrasinh  Raijada, Sepoy, Shri Somaji Thakor, Sepoy and Shri Chunilal Barad, Driver. We  reached Salaya-Khambhalia cross road on Dwarka High way. We got the intelligence that Haroon Jusab was in Khambhalia in his office named B & B Transport .  We reached there and Shri Jacob asked Shri Mahendrasinh Raijada to call Shri Haroon Jusab from his office. Shri Haroon Jusab came to us within 5-10 minutes.  Shri Jacob explained him that he was to be arrested in connection with recovery of gold belts from the vessel “Safina Al Burhani” and asked him to sign the arrest warrant.

Haroon refused to sign and started running to escape. I immediately started following him and since it was the evening and there was some public movement, I carefully fired 4 rounds of bullets from my service revolver and apprehend him and put him  into the jeep and started return journey for Jamnagar.

 During the journey, Haroon Jusab became violent near Railway Crossing near Khambhalia and made an  attempt to escape. Since he continued this type of behaviour, we felt that he should be tied with the rope, otherwise he might escape.

 Since we did not have rope, we asked the driver to stop at Shreeji Parotha House. After bringing rope from Pancharwala shop, Shri Jacob asked Somaji Thakor and Chunilal Barad to tie the rope on Haroon Jusab and we  cordoned off  the Jeep. In the meanwhile I started refilling the bullets as four rounds were fired by me at B & B transport trying to arrest   Haroon .  

When Shri Chunilal Barad and Shri Somaji Thakor were tying the rope, suddenly a truck from Khambhalia entered the Shreeji Parotha House open space and knocked down Shri C. G. Jacob, Shri B. K. Trivedi, Mahendrasinh and myself .  And the truck had gone away  100-125 feet away from us.

All of us fell down and suffered injuries on hand , head and legs. At this point of time Haroon, told us to leave him otherwise his men would kill us.

I readily  understood that the truck which had hit us was carrying his men .

I  got up in spite of injuries in my hand and several bruises on my body and got hold of my revolver which had  fallen down and tried to fire, but as the same was broken, so I could not fire as the weapon  was damaged .

 Instantly  I  saw that Truck took a u-turn and was headed towards us. I immediately went to Shri Jacob who was lying in blood with broken legs near me and started pulling him towards Parotha House.

  This time the truck hit on the head   of Shri Mahendrasinh Raijada and crushed his head. After that the truck   dashed against the RCC electric pole.

 I went to Haroon and asked him to stop the truck. Instead Haroon told his men in truck to overrun over us .  The truck then hit   Shri Somaji Thakor who had fallen down and was whimpering  in pain.

 Shri Chunilal and myself then shifted Shri Somaji to Shreeji Parotha House Shed. At that time, Shri Haroon  went to Shri B. K. Trivedi and snatched the revolver and ran away in another (second) truck. After that Shri B. K. Trivedi got up and fired bullets from SLR Rifles towards the trucks which fled  away towards Dwarka.

After departure of both the trucks, I went on the Jamnagar-Dwarka High way for help and with the help of Shri Nathubha Godhubha Jadeja, I informed my Assistant Commissioner Shri D. K. Srinivas to request for help from a nearby factory named Meera Tiles.

I then went to Aaradhna Dham and requested them to provide a vehicle to take my injured colleagues to hospital. They provided one Ambassador car and when I reached Shreeji Parotha house, Police also reached there and with their help we shifted all the injured to Khambhalia Hospital.

I filed FIR at about 20.30 hrs on the same day ie. 22nd March, 1992 against the men in the truck.

In this case, the judgment was pronounced by the Designated Judge on June 19.  1996 by convicting the accused Rajak Ali Sindhi and others  who tried to murdered the Custom Officers.

The judgement was upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide their judgment dated May 5, 1997 reported in 1997(92) E.L.T. 453 (SC).

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in their judgment observed that the FIR filed by Shri Paren N. Desai made a mention of all the details about the incident and is fully corroborated by the evidence of Shri P. N. Desai. Further, the Hon’ble SC observed that in their considered view, the evidence of P. N. Desai and Bharat Trivedi was totally unblemished and credible one and upheld the judgment of the lower court.

This is my saga of a near death experience whi;le serving in the Customs Department. I enjoyed my posting at Customs Division Jamnagar.


Customs fast  Patrol Boat

It was exciting and a big challenge. I loved both.

My achievements besides the above case

I played instrumental role in the following cases as well and got Rs. 10 lakhs plus reward.

1. In the seizure of contraband goods valued at Rs. 17,07,130/- on 21/22.03.1986 from the creek near Yaqoob Pir, Balachhadi, Dist. Jamnagar.

2. In the seizure of 174 silver slabs weighing 5220.973 kgs. Valued at Rs. 2,66,26,962/- on 21.04.1987 near Sunken Ship, Off Okha, Dist. Jamnagar and got Rs. 50,000/- as reward.

3. In the seizure of 20 packages containing Heroin weighing 19.520 kgs on 04.02.1988 from Hapa Railway Station, near Jamnagar.

In the very 3rd month of joining i.e. in the month of February, 1986, our team of 5 officers   recovered and seized contraband goods valued at Rs. 37,39,775/- on  26.02.1986 during the road patrolling near Salaya old Railway station. I received   a cash reward of Rs. 50,000/-.

 In the case of recovery of Gold biscuits from the vessel “Safina Al Burhani” in which we were assaulted, I received reward of Rs. 90,000/-.


Very well written narrative. I too was posted at Jamnagar during those days and am fully aware of the fateful incident. Mr Paren Desai had done a commendable job. My heartfelt appreciation and regards to him. At the same time, we must remember the sacrifices of life made by Mr Jacob, Mr Mahendrasinh Raijada and Somali Thakore during the course of discharging their duties. Let their souls rest in eternal peace.

Very well written narrative. I too was posted at Jamnagar during those days and am fully aware of the fateful incident. Mr Paren Desai had done a commendable job. My heartfelt appreciation and regards to him. At the same time, we must remember the sacrifices of life made by Mr Jacob, Mr Mahendrasinh Raijada and Somali Thakore during the course of discharging their duties. Let their souls rest in eternal peace.

Great. Well done bravo.

Top of everything, the courage to disclose the facts of the entire incidence is again an act of bravery. All the best sir.

Glorious past revealed. Hats off to you sir.

So much dedication to duty! And people say that government officers are just paper pushers!

What a courageous officer,Mr.P.N.Desai has been in his service days.Definitely he had faced death while doing his duty.I hereby express my hearty congratulations to Mr. Desai besides wishing him & his family members a happy & highly satisfying time ahead.👍👍👏👏🌹🌻🌼🏆🏆🏆.

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