Mumbai: A Mumbai woman was arrested after she triggered panic in Sahar airport’s T2 on Thursday night by asking security to “check her friend’s handbag carefully as it had a bomb inside” and then getting into an argument with CISF officials.
A seemingly thoughtless prank not only delayed an AI flight to Delhi by over an hour, but it could cost her up to three years in jail after she was charged with endangering the life of others and causing fear or alarm among the public. She is out on bail. Around 8pm on Thursday, Kanchan Thakur, a 27-year-old model, queued up with three friends to board Air India flight 101. She passed the boarding gate first, and when it was her friends’ turn, she turned to the flight security guard and made the “bomb” comment. Immediately, all hell broke loose. In panic, the security called in CISF and airport officials.
After initial questioning, CISF officials asked AI to offload the baggage of the four and leave without them. At this point, Thakur broke her silence, saying she had meant the comment as a joke. With the security officials unmoved, she got into a heated argument with them. The flight offloaded their checked-in baggage and left after 10pm, over an hour behind its scheduled departure at 9pm. Along with Thakur, her friends were also held back. It delayed one friend’s Delhi visit to meet her ailing mother.
All three have been asked not to leave the city. CISF officials, tasked with maintaining security in India’s airports, first checked the baggage of all four. “The furious model again had an argument with the CISF and claimed that when real terrorists walk into aircraft they do nothing and when she just cracked a joke, they turned it into such a big thing,” said the police. Later, officials took them to the Sahar police station.
“At midnight, officials registered an FIR against Thakur. She took the matter lightly and playing a joke on her friends turned serious,” said inspector BT Mukhedkar.
Air India officials defended the FIR, saying they did not want to let them off lightly without teaching a lesson because they had created panic and sent security officials into a tizzy.
Thakur’s friend whose mother is ailing said the others decided to join her when she planned to travel to Delhi. The police said all of them said their intention was not to harm anyone. They did not think it would turn into such a serious issue and just wanted to have some fun.
The serious charge of IPC section 505(1)(b), which deals with anyone who makes or circulates a “rumour” intending to cause or which is “likely to cause fear or alarm to the public or to any of its section whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or against public tranquility” attracts a jail term up to three years. While some lawyers said section 505 is not applicable, other senior lawyers said it was applicable since “intent” or ‘mens rea’ — guilty mind — was not necessary; a mere knowledge of the consequences of the action which may have induced a person to disrupt public peace was enough to attract this section.