Man who faked plane hijacking in 2017 to get his girlfriend to move in with him sentenced to life imprisonment
A businessman in India has been sentenced to prison for life after he planted a hoax hijack threat in the toilet of a Jet Airways flight that was traveling from Delhi to Mumbai. Birhu Salla said that he hoped the airline would close its operations in Delhi so that his girlfriend, who works as an air stewardess with Jet Airways, would have to move and live with him in Mumbai. Salla was also fined a hefty ₹4,99,94,797 ($720,725) for the stunt.
The BBC reported that Salla is the first person to be tried under the new anti-hijacking laws in the country. The legislation reportedly carries a minimum sentence of life in prison and has a death sentence in the most severe cases. Salla confessed to writing and printing the threatening note in his Mumbai office just before he caught the flight in October 2017.
“Flight number 9W 339 is covered by hijackers and aircraft should not land and be flown straight to POK. 12 people on board. If you put landing gear you will hear people dying. Don’t take it as a joke. Cargo area contains explosives and will blast if you land in Delhi. Allah is great,” the note read. It also demanded that the aircraft be diverted into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Salla was arrested after the plane made an emergency landing in Ahmedabad, which is 483 miles from Mumbai, the intended destination. The businessman was having an extra-marital affair with the air stewardess from Delhi at the time of the incident.
It was reported that Salla asked her to move to Mumbai but she had refused so he thought that she would lose her job and be forced to move in with him if he defamed the struggling airline. An investigator said that even though the man did not commit a hijacking, the incident still qualifies as an attempted hijacking under Indian law. The judge ruled that each of the aircraft's pilots will receive ₹1,00,000 ($1440) from the fine for the "misery undergone by them". Every air stewardess on board will also receive ₹50,000 ($720) and each of the passengers will receive ₹25,000 ($360).
Rohit Verma, Salla's lawyer, said that he will be appealing against the decision. Jet Airways, which was India's second-largest airline at one point, has suspended all domestic and international flights after the company ran into financial difficulty earlier this year.