Hijack hoax on plane lands man in jail for life

NEW DELHI • An Indian court sentenced a business-class passenger to life in jail after he was found guilty of placing a hijacking note in the washroom of a flight, in the first such ruling under a new law.

Birju Kishor Salla, 38, was also fined 50 million rupees (S$983,000), which will be distributed among the pilots, crew and passengers, a special court of the National Investigation Agency said in a judgment on Tuesday.

The passenger, who was flying on a Jet Airways India flight to New Delhi from Mumbai in 2017, was found guilty of intentionally disrupting the operations of an aircraft while on board. "Flight No. 9W 339 is covered by hijackers and aircraft should not be land (sic) and flown straight to POK," he wrote in a note placed in a tissue box, according to court filings.

POK refers to the part of the disputed region of Kashmir that is administrated by Pakistan.

Salla further vowed to start killing people if the aircraft's landing gear was deployed, according to the documents.

A jeweller by profession, Salla may have wanted to ground the airline to woo a stewardess, who he hoped would then approach him for a job, The Times of India reported, without saying where it got the information.

The flight's pilots will get over US$1,400 (S$1,910) each from the fine, while every passenger on board will pocket US$360, according to the verdict. Crew members will get US$720 each.

 
 

In 2016, India amended the rules, making the death penalty compulsory if a hijacking attempt results in the death of a hostage or security personnel.

In Salla's case, the pilot managed to land in the western airport of Ahmedabad and no passenger or crew member was harmed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2019, with the headline 'Hijack hoax on plane lands man in jail for life'. Print Edition | Subscribe