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Uproar in Parliament over Mamata flight scare, govt orders inquiry

Opposition members caused uproar in Parliament on Thursday, alleging that a private flight with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on board was low on fuel and was made to hover over Kolkata airport.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2016 14:17 IST
Dhrubo Jyoti
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a rally against demonetisation in Patna on Wednesday.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a rally against demonetisation in Patna on Wednesday. (PTI)

Opposition members caused uproar in Parliament on Thursday, alleging that a private flight with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on board was low on fuel and was made to hover over Kolkata airport.

Trinamool Congress parliamentarians staged a protest in the Lok Sabha, alleging that the plane scare incident was an attempt to eliminate the party chief, who has been at the forefront of protests against the government’s move to scrap high-value banknotes.

Airport officials in Kolkata said the flight took off from Patna at 7.35pm on Wednesday -- an hour behind schedule – and landed in the West Bengal capital shortly before 9 pm after hovering over 30 minutes in the sky due to technical reasons.

But Trinamool members dismissed this, alleging that the delay and fuel shortage was part of a concerted plan. “This is nothing but a conspiracy to kill our chief minister as she has raised voice against demonetisation and is touring the country to organise a mass movement against the anti-people decision,” Bengal minister Firhad Hakim said.

Trinamool Congress was joined by the Congress and other parties. “When there is no fuel, it’s the duty of the air traffic control to have allowed landing of Mamata Banerjee’s flight, her life is in danger,” Mallikarjun Kharge was quoted as saying by ANI.

The government rejected the conspiracy theories and said an inquiry had been ordered into the incident. “The security of Mamata Banerjee and other passengers is of serious concern, we are serious about it,” Union minister Ananth Kumar told Lok Sabha.

But there was no clarity on whether the flight was low on fuel. The carrier – Indigo – told ANI that the plane had a normal landing after being put on hold due to traffic at Kolkata airport.

The private airline said the air traffic control in Kolkata had “misinterpreted” the pilot and hence instructed fire-engines and ambulances to be stationed at Kolkata airport.

“The captain at no stage declared a fuel priority or emergency. Fuel on arrival was more than minimum diversion fuel,” Indigo was quoted as saying by ANI.