Ananya Dutta

KOLKATA: Suspicions about the identity and gender of a burqa-clad passenger aboard a flight forced it to make a “priority landing” at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here on Wednesday. However, it was eventually confirmed that the passenger was a lady.

Spicejet flight 208 took off from Pune in the morning and landed in Kolkata, passing through Delhi. There were 114 passengers on board.

“The crew noticed that the passenger was wearing a burqa. Her physique was so large that there was confusion whether the passenger was a woman or not,” said airport director R. Srinivasan.

A Spicejet spokesperson said the passenger was a Russian lady travelling with her husband. When the crew posed questions to her, they got no reply, possibly because the couple didn't speak English. As it was not possible to ascertain the identity of the passenger midair, the Captain alerted Air Traffic Control and sought a “priority landing” at Kolkata, Mr. Srinivasan said.

The aircraft was immediately taken to the isolation bay and searched for explosives. Routine security procedures were followed. In the meantime, the Russian couple were detained by the police for interrogation and subsequently released, Mr. Srinivasan said.

Airport services were not disrupted as a result of the confusion.

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