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Crew stealing whisky from PM's jet?

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 11:39 IST

Air India has warned it will not spare crew members suspected to have filched bottles of whisky from the official jet of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while he was on an overseas jaunt.

"We have already ordered an inquiry (and) those found guilty will be severely punished," managing director of India's international carrier V. Thulasidas said.

One of the prime minister's security officials said six bottles of Scotch whisky were removed from a sealed bar while Singh was on a trip to Germany and Uzbekistan in April.

The discovery of the broken seal triggered a bomb scare and a search led to the discovery of 29 bottles of whisky in the luggage of 14 crew members, with the captain and an attendant found holding five bottles each.

The captain, however, insisted he had purchased the whisky for off-duty entertainment, according to Air India officials.

"We have told Air India that this amounts to a security breach and that action should be taken accordingly," an official from the Special Protection Group, which is entrusted to guard the premier, said.

"No, no we are not interested in the Scotch but we want those who broke a security seal before the aircraft took off from Hanover for Berlin in Germany," he said on condition of anonymity.

Air India has two Boeing planes fitted with missile shields and re-configured cabins for Singh or President Abdul Kalam to travel beyond Indian shores.

Officials said the delay by the struggling airline in reporting the theft was also being probed.