In a security scare onboard an international flight, a 23-year-old man allegedly lit two cigarettes inside the toilet when the aircraft was halfway to Mumbai.
He was arrested once the flight landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport early on Sunday and was later released on bail.
Police identified the accused as Jerome Jessie, who works as a driver in Doha, Qatar. Jessie was on his way home to Thiruvananthapuram.
According to police, Jessie was already carrying cigarettes and purchased a lighter at the airport.
The banned item escaped airport security and his baggage was cleared, police said.
Police further said Jessie then boarded his 12.30 am IndiGo flight at Doha and had booked a connecting flight to Kerala later in the day.
Police added that between 2.30 am and 3 am, Jessie went to the toilet with a pack of cigarettes and the lighter in his pockets.
“The smoke detectors went off when he lit a cigarette causing alarm in the cockpit and leading the cabin crew to locate the source of the smoke,” said Senior Inspector Shashikant Mane of Sahar police station.
Police said when all passengers were found to be in their seats, the cabin crew checked the toilets and found one of them locked from the inside.
Jessie initially did not open the door despite being asked and when he finally came out, the cabin crew noticed smoke inside and found that he had smoked two cigarettes, police said.
Jessie was restrained to his seat for the rest of the flight, police added.
When the flight landed in Mumbai at 5.30 am, the airline contacted the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Mumbai Police.
Jessie was booked under the section for committing an act endangering the life and personal safety of others under the Indian Penal Code and for flouting the General Safety Rules issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The IPC section carries a maximum jail term of three months and a fine of Rs 250.
The accused was produced before the court on Sunday and granted bail after paying a bond of Rs 15,000, Mane said.
“The incident did not disrupt the progress of the flight. It poses questions on how the security system at Doha airport did not detect the lighter in the passenger’s luggage and allowed him to carry it inside the aircraft,” said Hemendra Singh, CISF spokesperson.