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Indian Accountant Arrested After Onboard Hijack Threat


An Indian accountant who allegedly threatened to hijack a domestic flight Sunday evening has been charged Monday under the civil aviation law. Commandos surrounded the jet after its emergency landing in New Delhi, prompting a major security scare for a country still on edge after the Mumbai terror attack more than two months ago.

Authorities say a 42-year-old accountant has been charged with threatening to kill and negligent conduct following the emergency landing of a commercial jetliner at New Delhi's airport. The passenger, identified as Jitender Kumar Mohala, the son of a retired high-ranking military officer, has been remanded for two weeks to judicial custody while an investigation continues.

Two other passengers, a man and a woman, were detained for questioning but later released without being charged.

The civil aviation ministry says "all precautionary measures were activated" after a couple of passengers threatened to hijack Indigo Flight 664 on Sunday following takeoff from Goa, a popular tourism destination.

Media reports say what began as a disagreement over seating escalated into threats to hijack or blow up the plane. After the flight attendants informed the cockpit crew of the A-320 Airbus, the chief pilot radioed a "Code 75" denoting a hijack or other acts of violence onboard.

The plane was sent to an isolated part of the airport after landing in New Delhi and surrounded by national security commandos.

Media described a scene of panic at the airport among relatives and friends who heard broadcast reports of a possible hijacking of the flight. Most passengers who were interviewed said they were not aware of anything unusual until they spotted the commandos crouching outside their plane after the landing in New Delhi.

The chief executive officer of Indigo, Aditya Ghosh, says passengers had to be kept inside the aircraft for several hours until it was clear there was no further danger.

"The important thing is that all of the 161 passengers are safe," said Ghosh. "They had no problem other than, of course, the mental trauma of going through something like this."

India's aviation sector has been on high alert since the Mumbai terror attack in late November amid security warnings that there could be a hijacking of an airliner in the country.

Sunday's incident prompted emergency meetings at the highest levels of India's government.


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