The Mumbai-based businessman arrested for allegedly planting a hijack threat letter on a Mumbai-Delhi flight had typed out the threat on his laptop at his Mumbai office the same morning and got a print of it from the office printer, which he later put in the tissue paper box of in the plane’s toilet, according to the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case.
According to the chargesheet, filed on January 23, the accused, Birju Salla, did it in a “planned manner” — and preparation of the threat note was captured on the office CCTV camera.
On the morning of October 30 last year, Salla reportedly first went to the cabin where the officer printer was kept and asked the office assistant to bring the laptop from his cabin. The chargesheet states: “He adjusted the setting of the printer, put (on) gloves in both hands, took printout of the ‘threat note’ and folded it. He removed the gloves, closed the Text Editor on his laptop, picked up the folded ‘threat note’ with the gloves and returned to his cabin…. “In his cabin, he again wore the gloves and kept the ‘threat note’ in a small plastic pouch,” it says.
The same night, while travelling first-class on a Jet Airways Mumbai-Delhi flight, Salla allegedly kept this note in the tissue paper box in the aircraft’s toilet, between 2.55 am and 3.20 am, the NIA has stated. This is the first case against an individual under Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016 (amended) in the country.
The chargesheet says Salla, who is in jail now, wrote in English: “Flight no 9w covered by Hijackers and aircraft should not be land and flown straight to POK. 12people on board. if you put landing gear you will hear the noise of people dying. don’t take it as a joke…”
A message in Urdu scribbled on the note was an exact translation of this English text by using Google Translator, the chargesheet says. According to NIA, Salla’s name was in the list of commercially important passengers, and he was escorted to the flight by two airline officials. He upgraded his economy class seat to business class, sought a blanket, and while boarding was in progress he went to toilet near the business class and remained there for five minutes, the agency says.
“In the toilet he placed the threat note inside the tissue paper box and returned to his seat and asked for a second blanket…and then slept,” the chargesheet states. It says, “planting of the ‘threat note’…amounted to ‘credible threat’ to commit the offence of hijacking as defined in section 3 of the anti-hijacking act, 2016.”
Salla denied the accusation in his bail application filed Thursday. The chargesheet says that Salla was married and has two sons, the elder one nearly 14 years old. “For the last two years, the accused Birju Salla however had an affair with one lady [name withheld]…who is working as a Guest Relationship Manager…” the chargesheet says.
According to NIA, Salla married the woman in Delhi on July 19, 2017, “concealing the fact that he was already married”. The agency’s probe found they soon began bickering over her job. Salla ostensibly wanted her to quit working and “take care of her ailing father”, and also because, due to her job, “…whenever he was in Delhi, she was not able to spend time with him”. The woman, the chargesheet states, was “not ready to quit her job, which led to arguments between them”.
In her statement to the NIA, however, the woman has denied this. She has stated, “Salla never advised me to leave my Jet Airways job. He never discussed with me about opening any airline, or giving me any job opportunity in any other company. We have never had any disputes…”