Islamabad - In a dramatic move, a gang of three robbers - two of them in police uniform while the third one pretending himself as officer of premier intelligence agency - kidnapped a money changer in front of Passengers’ Lounge at Benazir Bhutto International Airport and robbed him of Rs 70.26 million in broad daylight on Wednesday.

Though unauthorised sale and purchase of army and police uniforms has been a criminal act, yet the robbers managed to impersonate themselves security officials and after looting the person escaped from the crime scene. The robbers parked their Parado jeep at the drop-lane for more than one hour waiting for their prey - none of the intelligence agencies officials, security force and police bothered to note the parking violation on their part most probably because they were in the guise of police officials.

According to reliable sources, the investigators are sure that the robbers were well aware of the movement of the said person having a lot of money so they planned the way of looting at Benazir Bhutto Airport Islamabad.

The crime was the largest money heist ever committed at the airport where more than one hundred surveillance cameras have been functioning and troops are deployed to ensure safety of passengers and visitors.

The incident occurred when Muhammad Saleem, a carrier of Galaxy Money Exchange Company Karachi, arrived at Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Karachi on a flight at about 9:35am with Rs 70.26 million.

One of the money changers, who requested not to be named, told The Nation that four money changers (clients of Galaxy Exchange Company) were waiting for Saleem to receive the money and in return hand him over the foreign currency which he was to take to Karachi.

He said outside the Arrival Lounge, two men in police uniform and another one posing himself as officer of army intelligence agency were waiting for him with their jeep parked at the drop lane.

As the man in police uniform saw Mohammad Saleem with cash bags coming out of the lounge, they pounced upon him. “They punched, kicked and beat him and then dragged him into their jeep shouting that they had to interrogate him,” he said, adding that the four of his clients (Saleem’s clients) who had been waiting for him outside the lounged were watching all that helplessly.

Due to fear of being targeted by ‘policemen,’ they avoided to intervene and immediately contacted their offices in Rawalpindi and Islamabad to intimate their bosses about the situation.

He said the robbers dragged the carrier into their vehicle and sped off towards Islamabad Highway. While they were on way to their hideout, they allowed the kidnapped carrier to talk to his boss in Karachi.

He said, “The robbers wearing police uniform had been waiting in their jeep since 8:00am in the drop lane where parking was banned. Once they were asked to remove their vehicle by the CAA officials but they were forced to mind their own business, as robbers said that they were waiting for a senior army officer who was to arrive soon.”

Later, the kidnapped money changer Mohammad Saleem was pushed out of the vehicle near Khanna Bridge, Taramri Chowk.

In a delayed move, the senior police officers arrived at the airport and started investigation into the biggest heist at strictly guarded airport which had been under threat and security level had been on red alert due to VVIP movements during the last 24 hours.

They viewed the video images of the passengers and the fake cops. But they were unable to track down the robbers who escaped after breaching the tight security.

The Punjab government had already directed the divisional police chiefs across the province to launch a crackdown against unauthorised sale of Army and Police uniform and to immediately seal such shops selling the uniforms.

In recent times, terrorist during their attacks, especially in Peshawar school attack on December 16, were wearing military uniforms to disguise themselves as soldiers.

Moreover, the occurrence of incident also exposed the hollow claims of Rawalpindi police of capturing several accused who were involved in looting the expatriates in disguise of officials of FIA, FIU, customs and police. An official of police station airport, when contacted by The Nation, told that police have not received any written application yet about the incident.

CPO Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi, SP Muhammad Ateeq Tahir and DSP Farhan Aslam did not respond to several phone calls made by this scribe to know their version over this heist committed in police uniform.