x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

India vows to catch hoaxer who delayed flight

Indian police vow to track hoax caller who delayed Emirates flight with terror alarm.

DUBAI // A hoax caller who delayed an Emirates Airline flight in Mumbai by claiming two passengers were terrorists will be prosecuted if found, a senior Indian police officer said yesterday. Brijesh Singh, the deputy commissioner of Mumbai Police, said the identity of the caller was still unknown, but pledged he would be caught. "We will charge him as soon as he is identified," he said, by telephone from the Indian city.

The caller identified himself as Suresh Chavan, which is believed to have been a fake name, police said. The hoaxer told airport officials on Sunday morning that the passengers, who were travelling on Emirates flight EK 505, were operatives of the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba. Air-traffic controllers at Mumbai International Airport immediately recalled the aircraft, which was about to take off for Dubai before continuing on to Manchester, England. The plane was moved to an isolated area where passengers and luggage were checked. The couple was removed from the plane and questioned.

The flight finally took off after a four-hour delay. Police confirmed that the couple were released on Sunday night after it was established they did not have any connection with terrorism. pmenon@thenational.ae