Mumbai-based businessman Birju Salla, who was arrested in 2017 for triggering a hijack scare on a Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight, was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment under the amended anti-hijacking law, by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court.

The court also asked Salla to pay a fine of Rs 5 crore, which will be distributed among the crew and passengers of the flight as compensation.

Salla’s is the first conviction under the stringent new law. After the incident on October 30, 2017, Salla also became the first person to be put under the “national no-fly list”, and the first to be booked under the law.

Salla was accused of creating the hijack scare by planting a note written in English and Urdu in the tissue paper box of the aircraft’s toilet on October 30.

In the note, Salla said, “There are hijackers on board and explosives on the plane.”

The aircraft made an emergency landing at the Ahmedabad airport, after a flight attendant found the note and alerted the pilots. Salla was arrested on suspicion the same day, at Ahmedabad airport.

The case was first probed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch before the NIA took over.

Salla confessed to investigators that he had planted the note in the hope that it would force Jet Airways to shut down its Delhi operations, and that his girlfriend, who worked in the airline’s Delhi office, would come back to Mumbai, according to the NIA.

He also reportedly told investigators he wanted revenge against the airline after the breakfast he was served on another Jet Airways flight had a cockroach in it.

“During the investigation, clinching evidence regarding preparation of the threat note and its placement on the plane was collected,” NIA said in a press statement on Tuesday, after the court ruling.

“It was further established that accused Birju Kishor Salla intentionally committed the act to disrupt the operation of aircraft while on board. He also jeopardised the safety of the passengers and crew members on board…” the NIA said.

Holding Salla guilty of creating a hijack scare, the court of special NIA judge KM Dave ordered that the fine Salla pays be distributed among the crew members and passengers — the pilot and co-pilot of the flight will be given Rs 1 lakh each, the flight attendants will be given Rs 50,000 each, and 116 passengers on the flight will be given Rs 25,000 each.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published:
Jun 12, 2019 02:05 IST

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