Thursday, Aug 21, 2003
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By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
Around 11.45 a.m., when flight IC-825 was moving from bay no. 19 to the taxi bay with 53 passengers, including the Union Minister of State for Home, Chaman Lal Gupta, and seven crew members on board, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) received a message code indicating hijack emergency. Immediately, the ATC alerted the security agencies, and the Crisis Management Group was activated. As airport security is now handled by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), its personnel were the first to reach the plane. As they surrounded it, ambulances and fire tenders took up positions.
The Inspector-General (north sector) of CISF, Shafi Alam, said after the "hijacking alert" was flashed, they immediately sought to "secure the plane by taking it to the isolation bay". The Quick Response Team of the CISF surrounded the plane within four minutes and National Security Guard commandos swung into action. The perimeter security was also strengthened, he said, adding that no further action pertaining to other flights was necessitated as the crisis was resolved quickly.
Within 10 minutes, IA officials got in touch with the pilot, Captain Rajeev Nanda, and he informed them that the signal had been sent due to a "system malfunction". Mr. Alam said, "The incident helped in checking the preparedness of the agencies involved in airport security." The plane doors were opened at 12.45 p.m. and all passengers and crew were made to disembark. The pilot was questioned by the security agencies and officials of the Airports Authority of India. The Director-General of Civil Aviation also inquired into the incident.
The passengers were flown to Srinagar by a different aircraft at 3.17 p.m.
The flight to Srinagar had caused the second emergency scare during the day. Earlier in the day, there was another "alert" after an Air Lanka flight from Colombo with 127 passengers on board made an emergency landing due to a snag in its hydraulic system. The aircraft landed safely and no one was hurt.
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