B-word triggers fear in Priyanka Vadra’s flight

NEW DELHI, Feb 03 (INP): This flyer will remember for the rest of his life that silence is golden. The word ‘bomb’ he carelessly uttered after being exasperated with the multiple security checks at IGI airport on Monday morning triggered a security alert – he was detained and the aircraft was thoroughly combed.

There was heightened security at the airport as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra was scheduled to take a 6.50am flight. Priyanka was travelling with her daughter to Chennai by Jet Airways flight 9W 821, the same flight the irritated man was booked on, Times of India reported on Wednesday.

The passenger, while being frisked at the aerobridge – after going through the regular security check – reportedly asked the airline staff: “Kya check kar rahe ho baar baar? Mere paas bomb hai kya? (What are you checking for again and again? Do I have a bomb?)”

By then, the Vadras had already boarded and Special Protection Group personnel were present both inside the plane and at the boarding gate. With security and airline staffers on edge, the passenger’s angry query triggered a chain reaction. The 44-yearold flyer, a Delhi-based leather importer, was immediately pinned down and handed over to the security personnel.

A bomb threat assessment committee (BTAC) was formed and it decided to treat the retort as a full-fledged bomb threat and subject the aircraft to a thorough check.

All those who had boarded the aircraft – including Priyanka and her daughter – were asked to alight. Since checking the plane and baggage on it would have taken a long time, the Vadras took the next available flight to Chennai and left by another airline at 9.15am, said a source.

This Jet aircraft was checked and no ‘bomb’ was found on it. It finally took off for Chennai at 10am, almost three hours after schedule departure time.

The BTAC – comprising officials from the Central Industrial Security Force, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Delhi Police, Jet Airways and Indira Gandhi International Airport – then decided to hand over the passenger to the police.

“The man was irritated by the multiple rounds of frisking. Each time something would be found in his pocket, such as pan masala sachets and matches, which he was asked to remove. He finally got so worked up that he said something like ‘bomb hai kya mere paas?’ That comment activated the alert,” said a police official.

Once convinced that the man was a harried and harmless flyer, he was let off on Monday evening with a warning not to utter such words at airports.

The comment had been made at the “secondary ladder point check” which the BCAS had mandated in the run-up to Republic Day, following the unprecedented alarm after the Pathankot attack. This check means passengers are frisked by airline staff just before they board planes.

This is not the first time that words like ‘bomb’, ‘blast’ or ‘hijack’ have landed flyers in trouble. Some years back, a group of students was detained at Delhi airport after they had joked about what they would do if the plane was hijacked.


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