This article titled “I was asking about Bom-Del flight, says man charged with Mumbai bomb threat” was written by Michael Safi in Delhi, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd January 2018 17.20 Asia/Kolkata
An Indian businessman charged with making a bomb threat at a Mumbai airport claims he was misheard by a telephone operator while asking for the “Bom-Del status” – the status of his Bombay-to-Delhi flight.
Vinod Moorjani was arrested at Mumbai international airport on Sunday while waiting to board a flight to Delhi with his family. The airport has the city code BOM, because Mumbai was formerly known as Bombay.
Police allege that Moorjani, 45, was frustrated with flight delays and used a phone booth in the airport to call its toll-free number, warning the operator “bomb fata hai” – a bomb has exploded. He then immediately hung up.
Investigators claim he made the threat in order to delay all outbound flights from Delhi so he would not miss a connecting flight to Rome, according to Press Trust of India.
Moorjani has appeared in court charged with criminal intimidation and other offences.
But court officials told Indian media he had pleaded innocent to the charges. His lawyer argued he had merely called the operator to enquire about the status of the flight, asking for the “Bom-Del status”, and had hung up because of a disturbance on the line.
In April 2016, a flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai was delayed for nearly four hours when a cleaner found a ticket reading “bomb” in a passenger pouch. Authorities detained the man who had flown in the seat but released him soon after, reportedly concluding that check-in staff had scrawled the passenger’s seat number, B-47, on the ticket beside the code for Mumbai, BOM.
In November, another flight was delayed in Chennai after making an emergency stop in the city when an Iranian woman discovered mid-air that her husband was having an affair. The woman used her husband’s thumb while he was sleeping to unlock his phone, where she found pictures of another woman. Staff were unable to calm her and elected to land the plane midflight and offload the entire family.
Moorjani was released on bail of 30,000 rupees (£348).
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