Pune: An Indian origin passenger was arrested by law enforcement authorities at Newark Liberty International Airport for threatening to blow up the Air India flight AI-144 from Newark to Mumbai with dynamite on Saturday afternoon (LMT New Jersey).
However, Air India flouted the security protocol and operated the flight to avoid any further delay after the arrest of the passenger.
Sources said that following the arrest of the passenger, the authorities did not deplane the passengers and did not conduct the rescreening of the aircraft and baggage.
The arrested passenger has been identified as Yogesh Shandilya, who boarded the flight, along with his wife.
The sources said that the flight, which was scheduled to depart from the Newark International airport in New Jersey at 13.15 on Saturday was delayed by two-and-a-half hours due to commotion created by Shandilya.
A source in Air-India said, “The incident occurred while passengers were boarding the aircraft. Shandilya was talking at the top of his voice. When requested by the crew to calm down, he threatened to blow up the aircraft with dynamite. He claimed that he had links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and the crew should not mess with him.”
“The crew initially didn’t report the matter. Later, when the passengers asked them to pacify Shandilya as he was getting violent, they reported the matter to the captain of the aircraft, who summoned security personnel,” the source said.
“Initially, the local law enforcers came and took him out of the aircraft. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also came there as he threatened with a bomb explosion and due to his ‘connection’ with Dawood Ibrahim,” added the source.
The wife of the passenger also tried to pacify him but he didn’t listen.
Sources privy to the incident said despite being asked to carry out the security protocol by the ground staff, the Air-India authorities based at the Newark Liberty International airport didn’t carry out the security protocol citing the reason of further delay of the flight, as well as the company, would have to provide extra 48 hours to crew and have to arrange for hotel accommodation for the passengers.
When Sakal Times contacted Air-India authorities regarding the issue, Aruna Gopalakrishnana, Executive Director of corporate affairs, Air-India, said, “Air-India had conformed to all laid-down procedures on safety issues. Only after obtaining clearance from the security authorities concerned, the flight was operated. Air India accords top priority to the safety and security of its valued passengers and adheres to all Standard Operating Practices during any such situation.”
However, when contacted, Air-India CMD Pradeep Singh Kharola was unaware of the issue. He said, “I have not been informed about the matter. But I will get all details regarding the incident and will act accordingly.”