Saturday, April 17, 2021

Threat note on Bengaluru-Delhi flight triggers bomb scare; 12 flyers under lens

New Delhi: The captain operating an AirAsia India Bengaluru-Delhi flight with about 170 passengers on board on Saturday discovered a note in the lavatory threatening to blow up the aircraft on landing.

The note read, “there is a bomb on board I will blast as soon as it reaches Delhi,” and this flight I5-741 was scheduled to go to Srinagar from the capital. Luckily the Airbus A320 (VT-JRT) landed safely at IGI Airport where it was taken to a remote bay for checks and released for subsequent flights after being declared safe.

About 12 passengers were questioned and the crew reported their statement to the police, which are now probing the case. Handwriting samples of 12 passengers have been taken for matching with the writing on the note.

Incidentally, the first person to be put on no-fly list in India was a Mumbai jeweller who had left a hoax hijack note on a Jet Airways’ Mumbai-Delhi flight in October 2017 where he had threatened to blow up the plane if it landed in Delhi.

On Saturday, I5-741 took off from Bengaluru at 11.30 am. When it was close to Delhi, Captain Kiran Sangwan found the note in the lav and then he informed Delhi ATC seeking priority landing at about 1.53 pm. The airport, in turn alerted CISF which quickly swung into action by forming a threat assessment panel as per protocol for such situations.

“At about 2.07 pm, the flight landed and was parked at an isolation bay. All 159 (155 adults and four infants) passengers were deplaned at isolation bay along with their handbags. The aircraft, all baggage and passengers were checked thoroughly by CISF personnel. The threat turned out to be a hoax. The aircraft was released for flights in a few hours by security agencies,” said sources.

On the basis of the handwriting test and profiling, the police zeroed in on 12 passengers and took them to IGI Police Station for further investigation, sources added. The other 143 passengers were allowed to leave.

An AirAsia India spokesperson said: “Flight I5 741 from Bengaluru to New Delhi on Saturday was subject to a bomb threat while en route. The crew took all necessary precautions and landed at Delhi uneventfully. The aircraft was taken to an isolation bay till cleared by authorities and all guests and crew were deplaned safely. Security procedures were initiated as per laid down norms and an investigation is currently ongoing. AirAsia regrets the disruption in travel plans of our guests on account of circumstances beyond our control. We are reaching out and providing all possible assistance to all our affected guests. Aircraft search completed by authorities and clearance has been given. Aircraft moved out from isolation bay to operational bay.”

17/04/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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