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Hijack Hoax Lands Business-Class Flyer in Jail for Life

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 6/12/2019 Anurag Kotoky
a plane flying in the air: A Jet Airways India Ltd. plane prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. Jet Airways has approached banks for a moratorium on loans and has asked for fresh funds to ease a cash crunch, people with direct knowledge of the matter said, adding to signs the carriers troubles are deepening. © Bloomberg A Jet Airways India Ltd. plane prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. Jet Airways has approached banks for a moratorium on loans and has asked for fresh funds to ease a cash crunch, people with direct knowledge of the matter said, adding to signs the carriers troubles are deepening.

(Bloomberg) -- An Indian court sentenced a business class passenger to life in jail after he was found guilty of placing a hijacking note in the washroom of a flight, the first such ruling under a new law.

Birju Kishor Salla, 38, was also fined 50 million rupees ($720,000), which will be distributed among pilots, crew and passengers, a special court of the National Investigation Agency said in a judgment on Tuesday. The passenger, who was flying on a Jet Airways India Ltd. flight to New Delhi from Mumbai in 2017, was found guilty of intentionally disrupting the operations of an aircraft on board.

“Flight No. 9W 339 is covered by hijackers and aircraft should not be land and flown straight to POK,” Salla wrote in a note placed in a tissue paper box, according to court filings. POK refers to the part of the disputed state of Kashmir that’s administrated by Pakistan. Salla further vowed to start killing people if the aircraft’s landing gear was deployed, according to the documents.

A platinum member of Jet Airways’s loyalty program and a jeweler by profession, Salla may have wanted to ground the airline to woo a stewardess, who he hoped would then approach him for job, the Times of India newspaper reported without saying where it got the information.

The flight’s pilots will get over $1400 each from the fine, while every passenger on board will pocket $360, according to the verdict. Crew members will get $720.

India in 2016 amended rules, making the death penalty compulsory if a hijack attempt results in the death of a hostage or security personnel. In Salla’s case, the pilot managed to land in the western airport of Ahmedabad and no passenger or crew was harmed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anurag Kotoky in New Delhi at akotoky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net, Unni Krishnan, Candice Zachariahs

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