NEW DELHI: Birju Kishore Salla, a Mumbai-based jeweller, who had created a hijack scare onboard a Jet Airways flight in October last year, has become the become the first person to be put on the 'National No Fly List'. The list was enforced eight months ago to check on disruptive passengers.
The 37-year-old was arrested in October last year after an emergency landing had to be made by the Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways plane at the Ahmedabad airport following information that a note about hijackers and a bomb which was found in the plane's washroom by a cabin crew. "Mr Salla, the guy who had created the hijack scare in a Jet Airways flight last year, is the first person to be put on the no fly list," a senior DGCA official said confirming the development.
Salla is a multi-millionaire jeweller having his office in the Zaveri Bazar area of Mumbai and a flat in a posh locality of the metropolis. The note, placed by Salla, stated that there were hijackers and a bomb in the cargo area. He had confessed to preparing the note, hoping the threat could make Jet Airways close operation in Delhi and his girlfriend, who works in the airlines Delhi office, comes back to Mumbai.
According to the crime branch, the note was a printed note in Urdu and English, asking that the plane be flown straight to POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). It ended with the words, "Allah is Great". The reference to POK made investigators suspicious because Pakistan-based terrorists call the area 'Azad Kashmir'.
According to the DGCA, it is the responsibility of Jet Airways now to inform other airlines about the grounding of this particular passenger under the CAR. The DGCA will continue to maintain database of such passengers.
The then Union Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, had advised airlines to put him on the no-fly list, in addition to other statutory criminal action. He was also the first to be booked under the stringent Anti-Hijacking Act which had replaced the vintage law of 1982.
Under the revised civil aviation requirement (CAR), a passenger can be considered to be placed under three categories of unruly behaviour, with category three bearing the harshest punishment. Salla has been placed under the third category. It says that if a passenger's behaviour is considered life-threatening like affecting the safety of the aircraft then he or she can be banned for up to two years or more.
Unruly behaviour is probed by an internal committee set up by every domestic airline under the chairmanship of a retired District and Sessions judge. Its members are from different scheduled airlines and passenger associations, consumer associations and retired officials of the consumer dispute redressal forum.
(With PTI inputs)