- Passenger planted threatening note in toilet, setting off hijack alarm
- Earlier, he had carried a cockroach and pretended to find it in food
- Authorities suspect he has 'an old grouse' with the airline
The passenger, a jeweler from Gujarat's Amreli now based in Mumbai, was believed to be obsessed with an air-hostess and wanted her attention. Sources say the last time he flew, he carried a cockroach and pretended to find it in his meal. He had also nursed a grudge against the airline for some time, but it is not yet clear why.
The aviation minister identified the offender as Salla Birju. The businessman has been detained after investigators established that he was the only one to visit the toilet before the note was found by an air hostess.
"A man Salla Birju has confessed that he had kept the threatening note to destabilise operations in the Jet Airways flight," said the minister, adding that he had advised Jet Airways to "put him on the no-fly list immediately apart from other criminal action". If the airline does so, he could be the first passenger to make it to the no-fly list after new rules were enforced in September to allow airlines to ban unruly passengers for periods ranging from three months to over two years.
This morning, the Jet Airways flight 9W339 took off a little before 3 am from Mumbai and was soon diverted to Ahmedabad, where it landed 45 minutes later. The airline, in a statement, said the plane was diverted after the "declaration of an emergency as per established security procedures, due to the detection of an onboard security threat".
What had set off the scare was a printed letter in the bathroom in Urdu and English, which suggested that there was a bomb in the cargo hold of the plane. It said that the flight "is covered by hijackers and aircraft should not be land and flown straight to POK."
Hijack threat letter found in bathroom of Jet Airways 9W339 Mumbai-Delhi flight that was diverted to Ahmedabad earlier today pic.twitter.com/cr8KlKjvIP- ANI (@ANI) October 30, 2017
On reading the letter, the pilot of the Boeing 737-900 plane reportedly pressed the hijack button, alerting the Ahmedabad airport to a threat. After the plane, with 122 passengers including seven crew members, landed in Ahmedabad, everyone was screened and their bags checked. The passengers were photographed and questioned for hours on details like their last overseas visit, according to news agency PTI. The flight took off for Delhi six hours later, with Air marshals on board.