A crisp pilot uniform got 48-year-old Rajan Mahbubani upgraded seats on flights, while aviation jargon and anecdotes got him entry into cockpits. On November 18, dressed as a pilot, he was about to board his 16th flight as a passenger from IGI airport, when Mahbubani was arrested for allegedly impersonating a pilot.
“He shuttled between Delhi and Kolkata and got the pilot’s uniform stitched from Kolkata over a year ago. He also got an Armyman’s uniform stitched and claimed to be a colonel. Both claims are false,” said DCP (Airport) Sanjay Bhatia.
An officer said that during questioning, Mahbubani told police he was “charmed by uniforms and the stereotypes that followed a uniformed man.”
“He said the uniform helped him impress women on Facebook and TikTok and in person,” said the officer.
On Monday, Mahbubani attempted to board an AirAsia flight dressed as a Lufthansa airlines pilot, and was spotted by a Lufthansa staff member. “He was questioned and even though an ID was found on him, he was not registered with the airline. The ID was found to be fake,” said Bhatia. A case of cheating was registered against Mahbubani and he was arrested. Bhatia said that in the past, the accused had posed as an AirAsia pilot. “He managed to get in the pilot’s lane at entry and exit points of airports because of the ID,” said a police officer.
“He had been doing this for over a year. Whenever he was on board a flight, he would request the pilot to let him see the cockpit… the uniform often got him free upgrades and special treatment on-board,” the officer said.
Bhatia said that Mahbubani, who is based in Kolkata, was in Delhi for three-four days for a work meeting and was staying with a friend in Vasant Kunj, who too was under the impression that he was a pilot with Lufthansa.
“He runs a consultancy firm and would often come to Delhi for meetings,” said Bhatia. A police officer said “popular telecom brands invited him to do management training, and he shared photos on social media”. Bhatia said that “the accused told one client that he was a retired army officer, and lied to another about his educational qualifications”.
Police said photos of him wearing the two uniforms and posing, as well as TikTok videos of him singing in the uniform have been recovered from his phone.
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