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World

AFP
June 12, 2019

Love-struck Indian jailed for life over mock hijack

World

AFP
Wed, Jun 12, 2019
Police escort Birju Salla during court appearance. Photo Times of India

Ahmedabad: A businessman who mockingly threatened to hijack a plane to persuade his lover to quit her airline job and settle with him has been sentenced to life by an Indian anti-terrorism court.

The court in Ahmedabad found Birju Salla guilty Tuesday of planting a threat letter in the toilet of a Jet Airways flight between Mumbai and Delhi in October 2017.

The note claimed hijackers and bombs were on board and demanded that the plane be diverted to Azad Kashmir (Pakistan).

Pilots landed the plane in Ahmedabad in western India where the 38-year-old, a regular business class customer with the now-defunct Jet Airlines, was detained.

He was the first person to be convicted under new stringent anti-hijacking laws that carries a minimum of life in prison and a maximum penalty of death.

Special judge M.K. Dave said the actions caused mental stress and unimaginable trauma to passengers and crew and fined Salla 50 million rupees (US$178,000).

This will be distributed among those on board, with the 116 passengers receiving 25,000 rupees, the pilots 100,000 rupees and cabin crew 50,000 rupees.

Salla, who was already married at the time, secretly wedded the airline stewardess from Delhi and wanted her to shift to Mumbai but she had refused.

He planned the mock hijack in an apparent attempt to defame the airlines and shut down their Delhi-Mumbai operations, which could have left his lover jobless.

An investigator told AFP that although Salla did not commit a hijack, placing a letter threatening one qualifies as an attempt and a threat to do so.

Salla´s lawyer Rohit Verma in Ahmedabad said that he was yet to receive a copy of the court order.

"We will be filing appeal in the higher court against the court order," Verma told AFP on Wednesday.