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Hijack threat sends IGI into anti-terror mode


Karma Paljor,CNN-IBN
Feb 02, 2009 at 11:16am IST

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New Delhi: It was 1700 hrs (IST) when the pilot of an IndiGo Airlines aircraft, flight no E-664 from Delhi to Goa sent out a distress signal over Jaipur and sought priority landing. He also asked the ATC to move him to a discreet radio frequency, a procedure followed in Hijack situations.

The pilot told the ATC through the secure line that three people were acting suspiciously. Police sources said out of the three one was drunk and misbehaved with the airhostesses. They also threatened to hijack the aircraft.

The pilot then asked for armed support from on the ground. At 1730 hrs the aircraft landed at Delhi only to be taken to an isolated slot. Quick response teams of the CISF, police and the NSG immediately surrounded the aircraft.

Considering the high alert in the country no one wanted to take any chances.

It took over two hours for the security forces to clear the aircraft. Passengers were finally freed after a thorough check and Home Minister P Chidambaram hasn't ruled out a hijack threat.

"We don't know if it was a hijack. There were 163 passengers and six crew members. Three have been detained, we have names but unless they are interrogated and their identity is established we cannot release the names. All passengers are safe. They have been given refreshments and I believe they have now been allowed to go home," Chidambaram told CNN-IBN.

The anti-hijack machinery of the government was put to test. Those responsible for quick action proved that they were prepared to meet any eventuality. Even the Committee of Secretaries on Anti-Hijacking' was quick to meet to discuss the issue.

Indigo Airlines said its pilot followed the procedure and issued the alert when some passengers created trouble.

The suspects were identified as Sameer, Jeetendra and Hardeep. By late evening, the other two allowed to leave, only Jeetendra was detained by the police for interrogation.

Jeetendra was to be produced in the court on Monday.

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