Hijacker on board Jet Airways

Issue No. 21 | November 1-15, 2017

A Mumbai businessman was recently arrested for carrying out a hijack threat on a Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight. The flight was diverted to Ahmedabad, where it made an emergency landing. The businessman, identified as Birju Kishore Salla, who was also on the flight, left a note in Urdu and English in the lavatory of Jet flight 9W-339 warning that there would be a ‘blast’ if the aircraft landed in Delhi and claimed there were 12 hijackers on board with explosives in the cargo hold.

Investigators said the accused, a regular business class flyer, wanted to frame an airhostess, who had earlier spurned his advances. It was not clear if she was on the same flight. Officials said the flight, carrying 115 passengers and seven crew members, was put on hijack alert after one of the crew members found the typewritten note at around 3.30 a.m.

The plane then made an emergency landing at the nearest airport, Ahmedabad, a Bureau of Civil Aviation Security official said. The Aerodrome Committee comprising police and CISF officials was assembled. The aircraft was taken to an isolation bay and thoroughly searched. National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were alerted and helped in the anti-hijack drill.

PTI correspondent Rajkumar Leishemba, who was on board, said the passengers were told the flight was diverted due to “security reasons”. All passengers were deplaned and screened. They were photographed and questioned by security personnel on various details, including their last overseas visit, he said. After the search, the aircraft was allowed to fly to Delhi after a delay of seven hours. On the request of the airline, two marshals were put on the flight. “The aircraft landed at 3.48 a.m. and was thoroughly checked before being cleared for departure to Delhi at 10.46 a.m.,” Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) spokesperson Hemendra Singh said.

Salla, was detained after crew reported that he had been the only person to use the restroom before the threat note was discovered. On interrogation, he confessed to having placed the note. Since he did not know how to write in Urdu, Salla used Google to translate it. He then took a printout of the letter and dropped it into the aircraft washroom when the flight was in mid-air.