Thiruvananthapuram: Six passengers, whose protests near the cockpit led the pilot of an Air India plane to sound a hijack alert at the airport in Thiruvanathapuram, were on Thursday questioned by police and reported to have contested her complaint that she was threatened by them. As the questioning was underway, a non-Resident Keralites forum Pravasi Sangham staged a protest before a police station near the international airport here for summoning the passengers for investigation. The protest at Valiyathura police station was led by CPI(M) MLA KV Abdul Khadar.
In Kochi, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy continued to target Air India when he said there was "some lapse" on the part of the airline for allegedly failing to properly inform the agitated passengers about the delays in the flight leading the pilot to press the hijack button in panic. Around 200 passengers of Air India's Kochi-bound flight from Abu Dhabi on October 19 protested and some allegedly tried to enter the cockpit after it was diverted to the state capital due to poor visibility.
Based on Commander Rupali Waghmare's complaint, police had registered a case against six 'identifiable' passengers. Assistant Commissioner of Police KS Vimal said the passengers have denied all charges levelled against them by the pilot. "The passengers said there were only some hue and cry when the flight was diverted to Kochi and nobody threatened the pilot as mentioned in her complaint," Vimal said.
The woman pilot had claimed that she pressed the hijack button after few passengers forcibly entered the cockpit.
"They said their reaction was spontaneous and nothing happened as described by the pilot," he said. The questioning took place for two hours at the office of the Assistant Commissioner. All the six passengers also gave statements to police. Vimal also said efforts were on to contact Waghmare to take her statement. Waghmare in her police complaint claimed she was threatened with dire consequences. According to the FIR lodged with city police, Waghmare complained that a passenger even told her he would not hesitate to kill her if anything happened to his six-month-old child.