Scare on Delhi-Goa flight over ‘terrorists’ on board

Panic broke out on board a Delhi-Goa flight when a passenger got up from his seat and screamed that there terrorists were on board the plane. The man, who was later identified as a resident of Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, also claimed to be from the Special Cell, Delhi Police’s anti-terror unit.

The man was detained soon as the flight made a priority landing at Goa airport on Thursday. Senior police officers said the man was diagnosed to be mentally unstable and sent to hospital for treatment. HT is not naming the passenger due to his mental health issues.

The incident took place at 3.15pm on Air India flight AI-883. According to the officers of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), that secures the airports, when the flight was about to land in Goa airport, the man got up and shouted: “There are terrorists in this flight”.

As other passengers panicked, flight crew tried to intervene. When they asked the man to sit down calmly, he told them he was from the Special Cell of Delhi Police. An official aware of the incident said the man did not turn violent on the plane and was calmed down by the crew.

The matter was reported to the chief pilot, who alerted Goa Air Traffic Control (ATC) and requested priority landing, citing an emergency. The flight was given a priority landing slot by the ATC, which informed the Airport Operation Control Centre (AOCC) that in turn alerted the CISF and Goa police.

“Soon, as the flight landed safely at Goa airport, the CISF commandos detained the man at the aero-bridge itself. He was escorted to the Dabolim police station by the CISF staff and the members of Air India’s security staff,” said a senior CISF officer, who did not wish to be named.

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Air India declined to comment on the matter.

Pankaj Kumar Singh, superintendent of police, (south Goa), said the man did not seem to be mentally fit.

“He was travelling alone. When we tried to question him on his act, he did not seem to be fine. We got him medically examined and he was sent to the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour (IPHB) in Bambolim, Goa on doctor’s advice. No case has been registered against him so far,” Singh said.

During the initial investigation, the police found that the man had been under treatment for schizophrenia for the past three years.

“We contacted his family members, who told us that he had been staying alone for past few months. They said he had studied business administration after which he slipped into depression and is being treated for schizophrenia. They also said that he had stopped taking his medicines recently..,” said a south Goa police officer who did not want to be named.

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