'Plane hijacking in India was an exercise'

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Ananova : 'Plane hijacking in India was an exercise'

The hijacking of an Alliance Air flight CD7444 in India was an exercise by the country's commandos.

India's Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussein told reporters in the Indian capital that there was no hijacking.

He said the exercise had been a "successful" as all the necessary teams acted in prompt manner.

He added: "It was an operation to check the preparedness of people and agencies involved in the hijacking."

Story filed: 00:06 Thursday 4th October 2001

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 04, 2001


Thursday, October 4 11:42 PM SGT

False hijacking of Boeing 737 annoys Indian premier

NEW DELHI, Oct 4 (AFP) -

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee expressed annoyance Thursday over the bizarre events that led to a national security alert over a supposed hijacking of a Boeing 737.

"The prime minister has expressed displeasure at last night's incident," Civil Aviation Secretary A.H. Jung told reporters, hours after India stood down an alert over the supposed hijacking of a Bombay-New Delhi passenger flight.

Jung, a member of India's National Crisis Management Group, also said Vajpayee has given stern instructions that no more such incidents should occur.

"He wants an enquiry committee to study why this has happened and wants to make sure that in the future it should not happen again," Jung said.

The 76-year-old Vajpayee virtually stayed up the night for the four- hour drama that ended when commandos in New Delhi stormed the parked Alliance Air Boeing, which was carrying 46 passengers and six crew members, but realised there was no hijacking taking place.

The event has sparked off a debate over existing aviation security arrangements in India.

Jung said a probe has been ordered into the incident, which to some brought back memories of a 1988 mock hijacking staged by Indian commandos to hone up skills against aviation terrorism.

Jung said the drama was triggered when state-run Indian Airlines received a telephone call around midnight Wednesday that the Boeing would be seized in mid-flight.

He said the alert super-charged the atmosphere in the plane as well as in India's aviation circles.

"One passenger got up and started moving towards the front toilet and when the crew requested him to use the rear toilet, he became menacing and demanded to see the captain in the cockpit," Jung's ministry said in a statement.

"When the request was denied, he went back and repeatedly kept shuffling on his seat ... He was also constantly searching his handbag," it added.

Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who was the first to announce the so-called hijacking, had later said the confusion occurred because the pilots thought the hijackers were in the passenger area while travellers assumed the attackers were in cockpit.

Vajpayee was put an alert about events and an emergency meeting called by top government ministers with Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani in attendance.

Pakistan alleged the entire event was deliberately staged by arch- rival India.

"This was a total farce," Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan said in Islamabad.

He insisted the initial reporting of the incident by Indian television networks had sought to link Pakistan and Kashmir's Islamic separatists to the supposed hijacking.

"We have noted and the world must have noted the enthusiasm with which the Indian media tried to exploit this farce to malign Pakistan and malign the Kashmiri freedom movement," Khan said.

The incident came three weeks after suspected Islamic militants hijacked four airliners in the United States, plunging two of them into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon leaving some 5,700 people dead or missing.

On Monday a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with explosives into Kashmir's state legislature, killing 38 and leaving another 60 injured in the region's deadliest terror attack in more than a decade.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), October 04, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ