A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to a Mumbai-based businessman for planting a hijack threat letter on a Mumbai-Delhi Jet Airways flight in October 2017. The court has also imposed a hefty fine of Rs 5 crore on him.
“The fine amount submitted by the convict, businessman Birju Kishore Salla, will be distributed among the crew members and passengers on board the affected plane,” special NIA Judge K M Dave said while pronouncing
Salla is the first person who has been arrested, tried and sentenced under the stringent Anti Hijacking Act, which had replaced a vintage law of 1982. He was put under the "national no-fly list" after the incident.
The businessman was accused of creating a hijack scare by planting a threat note written in English and Urdu in the tissue paper box of the aircraft's toilet on October 30, 2017. The note stated that there were hijackers and a bomb in the cargo area.
Following the threat note, Flight 9W 339, which had taken off from Mumbai with 115 passengers and seven crew members, was diverted to Ahmedabad. He was arrested in October 2017 after the plane made an emergency landing at the Ahmedabad airport.
The NIA had in January last year filed a charge sheet against him under sections 3(1), 3(2)(a) and 4(b) of the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016.
The NIA had said Salla prepared a "threat note" in both English and Urdu language and placed it "intentionally" in the tissue paper box of the toilet near the business class, thereby jeopardizing the safety of passengers and crew on board.
He confessed to the crime and told investigators that he had done it in the hope that it would force Jet Airways to close its Delhi operation and his girlfriend, who worked in the airline's Delhi office, would come back to Mumbai.
The note asked the plane to be flown into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The note ended with the words, Allah is Great.