Sri Lankan Airlines flight forced to land by Indian Customs
A high-octane drama unfolded at the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday when Indian Customs and Central Excise enforcers forced a SriLankan Airlines plane, bound for Colombo, to land 20 minutes after it became airborne and arrested three passengers on board on the charge of attempting to smuggle red sanders, a fragrant wood, concealed in their check-in baggage.
The team, led by Assistant Commissioner, Air Customs, Sanjay Bangarcale and Superintendent M. Balachandran, found the contraband wood, 100 kg in all, covered in a black synthetic material, which seemed impervious to the X-ray scanner operated by Sri Lankan Airways at its check-in baggage counter.
Enforcers described the method of operation as ‘relatively new’ and said it could be a trial run to smuggle more valuable contraband items, including firearms.
Those arrested were identified as Siva Prasad Nair, 35; Mahin Abu Basheer Siddique, 43; and Thirupuram Balaraman. Investigators were verifying their antecedents.
Mr. Bangarcale and his team were on a stake-out at the airport following information that three members of a family, including women, were smuggling gold from Colombo to India on flight UL 161, which touched down here around 8.45 a.m.
They found the information to be false. Meanwhile, the flight’s call sign was changed to UL 162 for its trip back to Colombo at 9.30 a.m. By 9.40 a.m., Mr. Bangarcale received reliable information that three passengers onboard UL 162 had some high-value contraband concealed in their check-in baggage.
The aerobridge to the flight had by then been disconnected and the aircraft moved away from the apron area to the runway for taxiing and take-off. The Customs officials contacted their Additional Commissioner Sofia M. Joy for permission to stop the flight. She verified the credibility of the source of information and gave her team the go ahead.
The flight took off and the Customs enforcers were not able to get in touch with the air-traffic control, ostensibly because they did not have wireless sets on hand.
The enforcers contacted an ATC staff on his mobile phone. The flight had been airborne for nearly 20 minutes and was fast approaching its destination.
The ATC contacted the flight and asked the pilot to turn back.
Flight UL 162 touched down at the airport here at 10.30 a.m. Customs enforcers used a mobile stairway bridge to board the flight. The passenger manifesto, which also showed where the suspects were seated, allowed them to detain the alleged carriers without causing inconvenience to other passengers. (The Hindu)
- Litro LP Gas prices in Sri Lanka reduced from today (June 04) June 4, 2023
- Odisha train collision: Sri Lanka President expresses deep sorrow, assures support June 4, 2023
- Corporal’s bravery in Ududumbara commended by the Sri Lanka Army Commander June 3, 2023
- Price of Litro gas to be reduced by Rs. 350? June 3, 2023
- Sri Lanka Government to relax import restrictions on nearly 400 items June 2, 2023
- Reform momentum must continue despite tentative signs of improvement in Sri Lanka Economy – IMF June 2, 2023
- Government’s objective is to develop Sri Lanka as a thriving nation by 2048 June 2, 2023
This is open warfare now. India is on a path to sabotage all commercial links with its loving neighbor.
They are out to disrupt operations of our National Airline which is making airwaves in Asia and attracting and in this significant market share.
The raid was conducted by a Mr Balachandran, a tamilian. It is obvious CM Jayalalitha has had a hand in this operation to discredit Mother Lanka prior to the UNHCR sessions being conducted by another Tamil Madam, Navi Pillay.
It can be the case. How ever, how can you explain, attempting to smuggle red sanders, a fragrant wood, concealed in passengers’s check-in baggage.’
I think India has done us a favour by arresting contraband coming to our land.They have taken all the precautions and double checked their information before taking any action. It is true that India will do anything to tarnish our good name but this time it is to our advantage.
Although the antecedents of the culprits have not been established,they sound as all Indians.
Let us not search for crocodiles in our hot cup of tea.
AUJ, Yes, I too agree with you.
Please do not discount the possibility of the contraband having been “planted”. The Indians are desperate in view of the forthcoming UN sessions and are likely to resort to anything to harm our image.
Well, one way or other the argument, loaded from TN, it could have been a bomb easily.
If the black synthetic material was impervious to the X-ray scanner somebody could use it to cover some bombs or weapons to smuggle on board our national carrier, in the future.