Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal
New Delhi: Even as the world struggles to come to terms with the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine, it has come to light that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on the same flight path as the MH17 Boeing 777.
A report in a leading Indian English daily claimed that Prime Minister Modi’s flight back to India was rerouted after the incident, in which 298 people died.
The flight had taken off from Frankfurt, Germany, about two hours before the Malaysian airliner was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
According to the report, while the Indian PM faced no danger his plane would have flown over the same area had the crash not taken place.
The Malaysian airliner crashed at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 kilometres from the Russian border in Ukraine after being hit by a missile, as concluded by the US. The incident happened at 13:20 hrs GMT.
The Air India plane carrying PM Modi would have flown over the same area about an hour later had it continued on the same flight path, as the flight had taken off from Frankfurt at 11:22 GMT.
It takes about three hours to fly from Frankfurt to Donetsk.
Ukraine has now declared the skies over eastern part of the country as a no-fly zone. The area has been a battleground for state forces and pro-Russia rebels for the past few months.
The Indian government, meanwhile, said there was no threat to PM Modi`s Air Force One.
"I think that is speculation .... There was no danger to our PM`s aircraft. No problem. On Air Force One, the flight data is on foreign radar," Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju told reporters.
"What happens is that whenever any air route (for a VIP aircraft) is finalised, the countries involved get to know about it. If you don`t keep them informed, there is another type of problem," he said.
"So generally whenever any civilian aircraft flies over a country, suppose India, obviously the Government of India will know what aircraft it is, to whom it belongs, what its intentions are," Raju said.