NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan passenger who was offloaded from an Air India flight on Saturday morning for attempting to travel on a forged passport managed to evade airline and security officials for almost 18 hours before he was finally caught in Hyderabad.
The passenger, a Sri Lankan of Tamil descent, was on his way to New York when airline staff received intimation from US state agency Custom and Border Protection, that the passenger was not to be permitted to travel to the US. He was reportedly travelling on the passport of a Mumbai resident, Adesh Goel, who had reported the passport as missing. The accused had superimposed his photograph on the passport and US visa and managed to get a fake immigration stamp as well.
"At 1.30am, minutes before the flight was scheduled for departure, the passenger was offloaded by airline security staff. In the FIR to the police, airline officials have claimed that the passenger gave them the slip at the aerobridge gate itself. An enquiry into the action of airline staff may also be carried out," said airport sources.
The FRRO and CISF were informed of the incident only around 7am. The police was sent an official complaint around 2.30pm. When security agencies started looking through the CCTV footage, they managed to identify the passenger and saw him first change clothes and then leave for Hyderabad by another Air India flight at 5.40pm.
"The Hyderabad control room was immediately informed about the incident and a photo of the passenger was faxed to them. He had taken the Chicago-Delhi-Hyderabad flight so he did not have to change terminals. As per information, he was present in the security hold area all this time. Had security agencies been informed on time the man would have been caught much earlier. This is a serious security breach. How can an offender be allowed to roam around the terminal and then escape in this preposterous way?" asked airport sources.
A police team was dispatched to Hyderabad at 6am on Sunday to bring the accused back to the capital. Sources said that during the interrogation the passenger said that he was travelling to Canada to meet his uncle.
(Times of India)