Mumbai- Delhi Jet Airways flight was diverted to Ahmedabad after an air hostess found a note in the plane’s lavatory saying the plane was “covered by hijackers”
A printed note warning crew and passengers of a Delhi-bound Jet Airways flight of the presence of hijackers on-board the plane and directing them to take the plane “straight to PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir)” lest they all die in a bomb blast, triggered much panic early on Monday morning, causing the flight coming from Mumbai to land in Ahmedabad.
However, hours later, the hijack threat was found to be a hoax and that too one that was planted by a passenger who was travelling in the business class of the same flight with the ostensible intention of “disrupting operations”.
The incident, which understandably created panic both among the passengers on-board the flight as well as in the top echelons of the government, aviation ministry and security establishment, has paved the way for the first case of a person likely to be added to the ‘No Fly list’ made operational by the Centre last month. As per the new rules, any person named on the ‘No Fly List’ can face up to a lifetime ban from boarding flights – both domestic and foreign – for alleged unruly behaviour on-board a plane.
The ‘hijack hoax’ was triggered in the wee hours of Monday an air hostess of the Boeing 737-900 Jet Airways flight 9W 339 – which had taken off from Mumbai at 2.55 am – reportedly found a printed note in the plane’s lavatory stating:
As per protocol, the crew member who found the note informed the aircraft’s pilot, who is believed to have pressed the hijack alert button, following which the plane was diverted to the Ahmedabad airport where it made an emergency landing at 4.25 am and was parked at a remote bay, with all its 115 passengers and crew members reported to be safe.
The Bomb Threat Action Committee (BTAC) assembled at the Ahmedabad airport and started the investigation process by conducting a thorough search of the entire aircraft, photographing and interrogating all passengers and the crew individually.
Shortly around noon, news agency ANI claimed that the hijack threat had been made by a man named Salla Birju, who had confessed to having kept the note in the aircraft’s lavatory to “destrabilise operations in the Jet Airways flight”.
Sources said that Birju was one of the passengers on-board the flight and was travelling in business class. The hoax creator is reportedly being interrogated further by the security agencies concerned.
A man Salla Birju has confessed that he had kept the 'threatening note' to destabilise operations in the Jet Airways flight.— ANI (@ANI) October 30, 2017
The incident got Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju to advise all airlines to put the accused on the No Fly List immediately.
I am informed that person responsible for Jet flt 339 (Mum-Del) incident causing the landing at Ahmedabad today morn. has been identified— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) October 30, 2017
I am advising the Airlines to put him on the No-Fly list immediately, in addition to other statutory criminal action.— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) October 30, 2017
As per the DGCA regulations on the national no-fly list, passengers with “life-threatening behaviour” can face between a two years and a lifetime ban to board domestic and international flights.