Birsa Munda Airport from where Shakeel (left) was arrested for entering the restricted zone on Sunday. (Hardeep Singh)
A 35-year-old tailor’s apparent fascination for aircraft landed him in a Ranchi police station on Sunday.
Hours before Union minister Jairam Ramesh was set to arrive in the capital en route Saranda, an unusual movement inside the restricted zone sent the airport security apparatus into a tizzy.
Clad in a maroon Pathan suite and skull cap, a 35-year-old bearded man later identified as Md Shakeel was found walking around the no-go areas of the airport close to the runaway with a bag in his hand. This was around 6.30am. The Union minister was supposed to land barely three hours later.
What followed was a scramble to nab the intruder and then alert Doranda police about his detention.
However, during interrogation, Shakeel told the police that all he was doing was trying to see an aircraft up close as he had been fascinated by flying machines ever since he was a child. He added that he was not aware he had strayed into a high-security zone.
Ranchi senior superintendent of police Saket Kumar Singh confirmed the incident and said they were checking out Shakeel’s background.
“Although he told us that he was curious to see how planes took off and landed, we are still checking his background to find out why he was at the airport so early in the morning,” said Singh.
Officers at Doranda police station said Shakeel was handed over to them immediately after his detention.
So far, investigations have not revealed anything alarming about Shakeel.
“Information provided by him and his identity proofs seem to be genuine. But still lot of checking needs to be done,” said an officer, adding that intelligence help had been sought.
“A team also visited his house in Harmu. We seized his mobile phone to check his call details,” he added.
Though no one would come on record, a senior airport official said the man had been sitting in the waiting lounge since 5.30am. “Since there were no flights scheduled at the time, securitymen asked him what he was doing. They also told him to get an entry ticket, which he did and came back inside,” he said, adding that shortly afterwards, he was seen loitering in the no-go zone. Shakeel had not been released till reports last came in.