The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SMS terrorises plane

Calcutta, March 11: Everything is fine but a terrorist attack can take place! But don’t tell police about it.

The SMS from an MBA student to her father forced a Delhi-bound IndiGo airline to reverse course mid-air and return to Calcutta this evening.

Airport officials later termed it a false alarm.

IndiGo’s Flight 274, carrying 138 passengers and three infants, left Calcutta at 7.45 pm, 35 minutes after the scheduled time.

At the time of take-off, a passenger, identified by airport officials as Mehak Ahuja (25), sent the SMS. The girl is an MBA student in Delhi and her father lives in Bangur, the officials said.

“The father called up the airport informing them of the SMS. The plane had by then crossed Varanasi,” an airport official said. Varanasi air traffic control contacted the pilot and asked him to return.

As soon as the plane landed in Calcutta at 9.15 pm, it was surrounded by security forces. “Around 8 pm, the captain announced that the plane would return to Calcutta due to technical reasons,” Ambika Maitra, a passenger, said. “After the flight landed, we saw securitymen surrounding the flight,” she said.

“After a little while, some securitymen came in and asked one lady to accompany them,” Maitra said. “Later, she returned with them and asked all of us to cooperate as she would have to identify someone. However, she could not identify anybody and so was taken away again.”

The security forces searched the plane for over two hours before giving the all-clear. But the plane had not taken off till 12.10 am. IndiGo regretted the inconvenience to passengers but pointed out that the delay was beyond its control.

Preliminary enquiries suggested the girl was scared because she thought a person was following her in the domestic lounge. Ahuja reportedly said she saw three men whose appearance and conversation aroused suspicion.

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