Security officials were investigating a “suspicious balloon” spotted near the Delhi airport, which was on high alert after a phone call warned of bombs being kept on two planes.
The Gurgaon police alerted Delhi airport officials after spotting the balloon. A source at the airport told Hindustan Times the unidentified object was at a height of 1km. The Air Traffic Controller was told to keep a vigil on flying objects, he added.
Police said the call centre of the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) received a call about spotting of the big balloon following which the airport was put on alert.
“The call was received around 5pm and the caller said that the big balloon was heading from the airport to Aya Nagar following which an alert was issued at the IGI and all security agencies have been informed about it,” DCP of IGI airport DK Gupta told PTI.
“At about 3.15pm today, the patrol guards at the air force station located on Gurgaon-Faridabad Road reported sighting an unidentified balloon, red and white in colour, about 1 metre in diameter, flying between 1-1.5km high, and flying towards Aya Nagar in Delhi,” said Gurgaon’s police commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk. “Upon this, the Delhi and Faridabad police control rooms were alerted by Gurgaon police control room. No balloon has been recovered as yet. Further inquiries are in progress.”
The reports sparked concerns on a day top government sources said a US-made balloon shot down by an Indian Air Force fighter jet in Rajasthan on Republic Day had come from Pakistan and may have been an attempt to test India’s defences and response time.
The IAF scrambled a Sukhoi-30 warplane and deployed armed Mi-17 helicopters after radars picked up an “unidentified balloon-shaped object” at a height of 25,000 feet between 10.30 am and 11 am on Tuesday when the ceremonial parade was in progress in New Delhi.
The rounds were said to be fired from the fighter’s 30mm GSh-301 auto cannon.
Security agencies have not ruled out the possibility that the object was flown in from across the border, given the location’s vicinity to Pakistan.