Mumbai airport received four bomb threats in a 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday. While the first three calls were found to be hoaxes by Sanjeev Mishra, a mentally unstable person, the veracity of the fourth, made at 5.30pm on Saturday by an unknown caller, was yet to be determined at the time of going to press.
Officials from the airport police station detained Mishra briefly but let him off after his family produced a medical certificate from a Kolkata hospital declaring him mentally unstable, an official said.
Mishra’s first call, made at 6pm on Friday, warned of a car bomb near domestic terminal 1B. He called the control room again at 3:20am on Saturday, this time warning of a bomb in a fleet taxi parked at the airport.
In his third hoax call, Mishra said there was a bomb on a GoAir flight from Bhubaneshwar to Mumbai. He reportedly mentioned the flight number (G8-243) and said, “Suitcase mein bomb hai (There is a bomb in a suitcase).” The call was made from a number registered in Odisha. The plane, carrying more than 150 people, was forced to make an emergency landing in Nagpur one hour into its journey.
Under standard operating procedure, the passengers were offloaded and the aircraft was taken to a remote parking bay for a security check. After no suspicious objects were found on board, passengers boarded the plane again and resumed their journey to Mumbai.
“For the GoAir hoax, he (Mishra) called us, Bhubaneshwar airport and Bagdogra airport from the same cell phone number,” said a senior official with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), who did not wish to be named.
A GoAir spokesperson also confirmed the incident, saying the flight, which took off from Bhubaneshwar at 8:20am, was forced to land in Nagpur at 9:29am. “After offloading the 150 passengers, checks were conducted by airport security and no bomb was found on board. After clearance from the authorities, the passengers boarded the flight again, and it was scheduled leave for Mumbai at noon,” a GoAir statement read.
The fourth call, made to the airport control room at 5:30pm on Saturday, was from a cell phone number traced to Uttar Pradesh. “The caller was extremely abrupt. He said someone would blow up the city airport by February 2 and hung up,” said a CISF official.