Hijack Drama aboard Indigo GOA-DEL flight
Three flyers held after 'hijack' drama at IGI airport
2 Feb 2009, 0157 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The heightened hijack drill issued for airlines following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack came into full effect amid high drama on Sunday evening when three passengers, including a woman, behaved unusually aggressively on IndiGo flight 6E 334 from Goa to Delhi.
Possibly inebriated, these passengers are learned to have told the airhostess that they were armed, had more accomplices in the plane and that they had already put some flyers to sleep.
While this turned out to be just an empty threat, what followed was a complete hijack drill that led to panic among flyers and major disruption of air traffic at IGI Airport for the next three hours.
When the threat was made, the plane was over Jaipur and had begun its descent for Delhi. The alarmed airhostess told the pilot, who in turn sounded the alarm signal for Delhi ATC and landed at IGI at 5.29pm.
The Airbus A-320 with 163 passengers and six crew was parked at an isolated bay and was given a `follow-me' jeep. It was promptly surrounded by security forced led by NSG and CISF.
According to sources, the three passengers were Jitendra Kumar Mohalla (16E), Samir Uppal (16B) and Harpreet Anand (29D).
Other passengers on the IndiGo flight grew suspicious as the plane's doors did not open for over half-an-hour after landing. They were told no parking bay was available. Most of them got to know about the `situation' only after they switched on their mobiles and started getting frantic calls from relatives who had seen hijack news being flash on TV. The panic level kept rising as more passengers kept getting informed they were ``hijacked and that someone was threatening to blow up the plane''.
As soon as the plane landed, the committee of secretaries on anti-hijack, met to *****s the situation. After drawing up a strategy, the aircraft door was opened at 7.52pm and five commandos sent inside. During this time, other aircraft parked near this plane were not allowed to move. This led to passengers of many incoming planes remaining inside for hours and others, who were in buses to board planes, being stuck on apron for a long time.
It took another three hours for the IndiGo passengers to disembark the Airbus A-320. The three suspects were detained for questioning and 20-odd flyers were being quizzed to get more information. Aviation secretary M M Nambiar said: “We reviewed all aspects of the situation before deciding it was safe to allow passengers to disembark. The suspicious passengers are being questioned.''
IndiGo CEO Aditya Ghosh said all passengers were safe and that deboarding had been completed by 10.30pm.
Passengers were allowed to disembark in batches of 20, after strict screening. The first passengers came out at 9.35pm. Aruna Harprasad, a passenger, said: “We knew there was some problem in the aircraft with three passengers but everything was vague. The crew kept reassuring us that all was well but we were getting increasingly suspicious.''