“We have been dumped here. We did not seek permission from anyone for plane spotting in Delhi as we did not know it was an offence,” said Steve Ayres (55), an aviation enthusiast who was detained at the Radisson hotel with his friend Stephen Hampston (46), a week ago for allegedly receiving signals of several planes on a device carried by them.
An employee of British Railways, Ayres came to India with Hampston on February 11. Both are avid plane spotters.
“I have been to other countries, too, for plane spotting. After coming to Delhi, we visited the IGI airport’s domestic terminal and also the Air Force Museum as it is our hobby,” said Ayres, who claimed they have not heard anything from the authorities. Hindustan Times was the first to report the incident.
Both Ayres and Hampston have been held at the Lampur detention centre in northwest Delhi since February 17. The Radisson Hotel staff had alerted the police when they found them taking pictures of the aircraft flying in and out of the IGI airport 500 metres away, on February 15.
In a three page report submitted before a city court on Monday, Delhi Police alleged that the duo were carrying S-Box, a device used for receiving signals regarding the identification, registration of an aircraft, a violation under the Indian Telegraph Act.
On Monday, in a three-page report submitted before a city court, Delhi Police alleged that the duo were carrying an S-Box, a device used to receive signals about the identification and registration of an aircraft—a violation of the Indian Telegraph Act.
Delhi Police decided to book the duo under the Act after receiving a report from the Wireless department of the Ministry of Communications. The report said they had recorded the registration number, flight path and country code of several flights including British Airways and Thai Airways. The laptop seized from the duo also carries several photographs of aircrafts, none of which were taken at the IGI airport, police said.
“The small receiver recovered from them is covered under the Telegraph Act,” the report said. After being detained, the two Britons were grilled by six different agencies including Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).
“We moved an application before a city court as they are being illegally detained at Lampur. When a case has been registered against them, they should have been produced in court on Monday,” said Rajiv Awasthi, the two Britons’ counsel.
“The court will hear the case on Tuesday and will take necessary action,” said H.G.S. Dhaliwal, DCP (south).