Mid-air scare: Man turns violent on Mumbai-Delhi flight, raises Islamic slogans

published on November 8, 2012

NEW DELHI: In what was described by a frequent flyer as the “scariest flight of his life”, a passenger on board a Mumbai-Delhi IndiGo flight suddenly turned violent mid-air on Wednesday and started raising Islamic slogans while threatening to harm the aircraft. The situation turned so alarming that the cabin crew and passengers pinned down the flyer, Mursalim Shaikh, 41, and blocked the aisle with a food trolley to prevent him from making a dash for the cockpit.

The IndiGo flight 6E 196 made a quick descent in Delhi after seeking priority landing, where Shaikh, a used car dealer from Babu Tansen Chawl in Virar, was handed over to security agencies.

The drama began about an hour after the plane had taken off from Mumbai at 3.45pm and was flying over Jaipur. Shaikh, bearded and dressed in a pathani suit, was seated on seat 28 A. “He suddenly turned around on the seat to face an aged woman on 29A and started muttering menacingly to her,” a flyer said. An airhostess reportedly asked Shaikh to sit properly, but he kept gazing at her before suddenly slapping her, turning very aggressive.

Recalling the hijack scare on a Delhi-Mumbai flight, a co-passenger said, “Shaikh was waving a cellphone and threatening ‘sabko dekh loonga’ (I will teach everyone a lesson).” Male passengers and the crew together pinned Shaikh down. Then women and children seated in the rear were sent to the front and a food trolley was placed in the aisle to prevent Shaikh from going towards the cockpit.

Confirming the incident, IndiGo said, “This unruly passenger started screaming and also physically assaulted a crew member. The passenger also got violent with co-passengers, and tried to access the forward of the aircraft. IndiGo crew made appropriate announcements and deployed security measures to block access to the front of the aircraft and the front galley.”

Said a passenger, “We landed soon after the man had been overpowered.” The flight commander had requested for security personnel on arrival. The passenger was taken out at 6.13pm and handed over to the CISF. IndiGo said it was in the process of lodging an FIR. “An untoward conduct of this nature is of serious concern to us. We will take all necessary action to address this violation,” IndiGo said.

While passengers said the landing in Delhi came as a huge relief, the drama did not end there. For, the airline and airport personnel did not handle the situation as professionally as the crew had done in the air. “Once the aircraft door opened, we expected security personnel to rush in and arrest the flyer. But the airline’s own security team came into the aircraft. We were first asked to alight and then a second announcement was made asking us to stay seated. We were wondering why security agencies did not just whisk the guy away?” said a passenger.

The IGI domestic airport police have arrested Shaikh and registered a case for criminal intimidation, assault and threatening the crew. The Intelligence Bureau is quizzing him.

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