AI hijack alarm: 'Felt threatened by passengers'
Posted on: 08:08 PM IST Oct 23, 2012
Thiruvananthapuram: An Air India woman pilot, who sounded a hijack alert at the airport here after some protesting passengers allegedly tried to force their way into the cockpit, in her police complaint claimed she was threatened with dire consequences.
According to the FIR lodged with city police, Commander Rupali Waghmare complained that a passenger even told her he would not hesitate to kill her if anything happened to his six-month-old child.
Around 200 passengers of AI Kochi-bound flight from Abu Dhabi had on October 19 protested and some allegedly tried entering the cockpit after it was diverted to the state capital due to poor visibility. Having boarded the previous night, they alleged it took several hours even to take off from Abu Dhabi.
The comments of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy slamming Air India over the incident, meanwhile, triggered a row. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the chief minister should have waited for the outcome of separate inquiries into the incident before faulting the airline.
"He should have waited," Singh said in New Delhi. Singh said one should wait for the inquiry reports before jumping into any conclusion. The Kerala police, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the DGCA will all study what prompted Captain Waghmare to raise the hijack alarm.
Chandy had said on Sunday that the state-owned airline's actions amounted to "sheer cruelty" and that "the hapless passengers were even dubbed as hijackers...this is deplorable and we express strong protest over it."
Passengers also alleged that even women and children were not provided water or refreshments and they started protesting only after there was no word from the crew on when the flight would leave for Kochi. State police has set up a special team under Assistant Commissioner KS Vimal to ascertain the circumstances that led to the incident and find out if the pilot's charges against the passengers are true.
Based on Waghmare's complaint, police had registered a case against six 'identifiable' passengers and begun investigation by questioning airport staff who were witness to the drama that unfolded at the airport.