Trinamool alleges ‘assassination attempt’ over Mamata Banerjee’s delayed flight

After circling over Kolkata for 32 minutes, the plane finally landed at 8:45 PM.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | Kolkata | Updated: December 2, 2016 1:29 pm
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Express Photo/Vishal Srivastav West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Express Photo/Vishal Srivastav

Allegations of conspiracies by the opposition, in the volatile and often violent Bengal politics, is hardly uncommon. But the TMC’s allegation that an “assassination attempt” was made on CM Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday night has the party up in arms.

Mamata Banerjee was flying back from Patna to Kolkata, returning from her rally against demonetisation. Along with her was party vice-president Mukul Roy. At the heart of the alleged conspiracy is the question of why the Indigo flight, that she was on, wasn’t allowed to land in spite of it repeatedly informing Air Traffic Control (ATC) that it was low on fuel. Meanwhile, adding further confusion to the mix, is the ATC’s denial that the pilot had informed them about being low on fuel.

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According to Mukul Roy, the flight 6E 0342, had landed at 8:45pm in Kolkata. He said, “Upon landing, the pilot said that the ATC had been informed about the flight being low on fuel at 8:13pm. The flight with the CM on board was in the air, while the flight was critically low on fuel.” Roy, also told reporters, that the Patna-KKolkata flight had taken off after an hour’s delay and near Kolkata, the pilot had announced due to congestion the flight would circle the airport and it was eighth in queue for sequential landing.

In a statement, the TMC adds, “The palne was coming from Lucknow and was already delayed and it left Patna for Kolkata at 7:35 PM. At 8:05 PM, the flight was 180 km away from Kolkata. The pilot informed the passengers that it will take 15-20 minutes more for touchdown as seven other flights were waiting to land and his flight will land as the eighth one. After circling over Kolkata for 32 minutes, the plane finally landed at 8:45 PM. The pilot informed air traffic control at 8:13 PM that fuel was very low and sought permission to land repeatedly thereafter.”

In Lok Sabha, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, “The government must ensure the well-being and security of Mamata Banerjee. Her life is under threat. There must be full enquiry into the incident.” Meanwhile, Derek O’Brien, at Rajya Sabha, reiterated the party’s stand and said, ” “Why was the aircraft denied permission to land? This is suspicious. If this is happening to one Opposition leader today, it can happen to any other Opposition leader tomorrow.”

Meanwhile airport authorities refused to comment officially, maintaining that an investigation was ongoing. The official, however clarified, “There was no security threat. It was due to congestion. What is troubling though is that the ATC maintains that they didn’t receive any word regarding the flight being low on fuel. We will need to investigate the issue thoroughly.”