Saturday, Nov 02, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
According to the fax, a woman passenger, Paramjit Kaur, along with one Pawan were on that flight. The two, it further stated, were carrying explosives which they planned to detonate on arrival at Hong Kong. The plane apparently had already left Mumbai by the time the message reached Air India's Hong Kong office.
Thus, the message was immediate sent to the Delhi office who, in turn, informed the Police Control Room here. Immediately, IGIA was put on alert and agencies concerned swung into action. The aircraft was made to land on a priority basis at about 7-50 a.m. by the Air Traffic Control and guided to the Isolation Bay. All the 192 passengers including the crew were offloaded and while the 138 passengers bound for Delhi made their way out after a detailed security check, the 41 booked for Hong Kong were taken to the transit lounge.
A simultaneous check of the passenger manifest did not reflect the presence of any of the names mentioned in the message. Yet, officials concerned conducted a thorough check of all passengers, their baggage and other belongings.
According to the Air India spokesperson, the passengers taken to the transit lounge were not subjected to another immigration check but had go through a round of security check. No person by the names mentioned in the message could be located from among the passengers, the spokesperson added. The flight too was examined thoroughly by the bomb disposal squad of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and was cleared for departure after a couple of hours. It finally departed at 12- 45 p.m. after a four-hour delay.
As officials went about their business, passengers scheduled to board the flight from Delhi waited uninformed till news channels broadcast the news around 10 a.m. "First we were told there is a half-an-hour delay, then they extended it by another 30 minutes and this went on till the news channels broadcast what had happened,'' said cricketer Nikhil Chopra who was on his way with his wife to Hong Kong for the International Sixes Cricket tournament.
On the spate of anonymous calls and messages being received of late, officials said, caller identification gadgets had been installed on nearly all direct connections but it was not feasible to do the same on extension numbers connected to a single EPABX numbers used by all agencies and airliners at IGIA.
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