People were puzzled to find airport swarming with police
The “hijack alert”, triggered by the captain of an Indian carrier, caused quite a flutter outside the international airport here on Friday.
Air-passengers and the public, who had come to either receive or bid farewell to their kith and kin, were surprised by the unexpected presence of television cameramen and journalists who were on a stake out in front of the airport building ever since the news broke around 8 a.m.
They first thought the journalists were there to cover the arrival of some VIP. But soon, the word “hijack” was in the air and many even predicted some police action. Journalists were busy trying to patch together a picture of what was happening.
The arrival of senior police officers and more Central Industrial Security Force men added to the rumours of an imminent anti-hijack operation.
The rumours disappeared along with the overcast day’s morning mist with television channels reporting that the situation was no “real hijack” but an attempt by some passengers to enter the cockpit to protest the delay in reaching their original destination, Kochi.
The captain had attempted to land the plane four times at Nedumbassery airport in Kochi, but had to divert the flight to Thiruvananthapuram owing to inclement weather over the airport there.
The passengers were irate after somebody spread word that they would have to reach Kochi on their own. Soon, the government intervened to settle the issue.
Most of the 165 passengers on board hailed from Thrissur, Chavakad and Kozhikode, and were retuning home after several years of employment in the Gulf.
State Police Chief K.S. Balasubramanian and Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran interacted with passengers, airline staff, aircraft crew, the flight’s commander and Airport Authority of India officials.
They ensured that the passengers were given lunch. The flight refuelled and took off with a new commander in its cockpit at around 2 p.m.