Unruly passenger grounds IndiGo flight in Mumbai: We feared for our lives, say fellow fliers

Updated: 31 July, 2016 14:22 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon and Neha LM Tripathi |

A Dubai-Kozhikode IndiGo flight, on Thursday, made a precautionary landing in Mumbai after a youth assaulted passengers, and made references to the ISIS

“Aarada ISIS? Entha ISIS? Enthina paavangale kolunne? Islam paavangale kollaan pathipikyunnilla. Njyaan ningale aakramikyum. Ende adthu varanda. Njyaan aareyum vimaanathil ninnu purathekku vidilla (Who is ISIS? What is ISIS? Why are the innocent being killed? Islam doesn’t teach the killing of the innocent. I will fight you if you come close to me. I won’t allow anybody to get off the plane).” This was the chilling threat in Malayalam made mid-air by a 24-year-old man on IndiGo flight 6E 89 (Dubai-Kozhikode) yesterday that sent chills though 184 passengers and crew.

Also Read: Man detained for unruly conduct on Indigo flight in Mumbai

Ismail rains blows around, he issues more threats, dares people to come closer
Ismail rains blows around, he issues more threats, dares people to come closer

The ruckus caught the IB’s attention because was the dreaded four-letter word: ISIS.

Due to the man’s “unruly behaviour”, the flight had to be diverted to Mumbai for a precautionary landing. The youth, Ismail Cheriya Parambath, allegedly mentally unstable, was offloaded along with his 33-year-old brother, handed over to the CISF and then to the IB for questioning. Till late last evening, the IB was trying to ascertain if he indeed suffers from a mental health disorder.

Ismail Hamza (left) and Arafat Yasar were in the front row of the flight
Ismail Hamza (left) and Arafat Yasar were in the front row of the flight

Ismail had been residing in Dubai for the last four years. His five brothers recently decided to send him back to their hometown, Kannur, in Kerala for treatment for his alleged mental disorder. The 33-year-old sibling was given the charge of taking him home safely.

The commotion
The flight departed from Dubai at 4.25 am and was scheduled to arrive in Kozhikode at 9.30 am.

Ismail Hamza (34), a native of Nandi, Kozhikode, who was in seat-1F of the flight, told mid-day that the passengers started drifting off to sleep soon after departure. His friend, Arafat Yasar (33), was in seat-1E. “Around 2 hours after take-off, a bang shook us all. We saw a young man sitting on a food cart, banging the overhead cabin. Within minutes, he started abusing passengers, including women,” recalled Hamza.

Read Story: 70 fliers offloaded from Raipur-bound Indigo flight for 'unruly behaviour'

Ismail allegedly turned more aggressive by the minute. “Initially, I thought he was drunk. But when he started hitting people, I began fearing for my life,” said Yasar, who runs a cargo business in Dubai.

Crew frozen in shock
Hamza, a resident of Sharjah who runs a logistics business in Dubai, said Ismail threatened the passengers and questioned the ISIS dogma in a vicious tirade. “He then ran towards the end of the plane and started munching on bread. The five women crew members, who were non-Malayalis, were in shock and could not utter a word.”

Hamza said since he and Yasar were in the front row, a flight attendant asked them to help out in case Ismail pounced on a passenger. “Later, a passenger went to the toilet and when he came out, the man, who was waiting outside, slapped him hard. The passenger, a middle-aged man, did not retaliate and went back to his seat calmly.”

By now, Ismail had allegedly taken a turn for the worse. When Yasar tried to stop him, he rained blows on him, and then began punching other passengers who intervened. Another passenger who tried to overpower him was allegedly kicked. “We got the feeling that he was trained in some martial art, as he could easily manage three to four people at a time,” said Hamza. As the horror unfolded, passengers realised that Ismail’s brother was seated helpless in the middle row. According to Araft, the brother told them that Ismail was being taken to Kerala for treatment.

IB takes over
Some time later, Ismail calmed down and plonked himself on the aisle. Meanwhile, the flight was diverted to Mumbai, but the crew didn’t make any on-air announcement for fear of provoking him further.

After landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 9.18 am, the brothers were offloaded with the help of CISF personnel and taken to the international terminal for questioning by the IB. A translator was also brought in.

Sources said the IB asked Ismail’s brother for the medical reports to support the claim that he is mentally unstable. He was later taken to the Sahar police station.

Around 7 pm, Ismail again allegedly turned aggressive and began yelling in Malayalam. He was then taken to the Cooper Hospital. Hospital sources said Ismail was admitted to the psychiatry ward. “The patient is not stable. Our first priority is to stabilise him. After keeping him under observation for a day or two, we will be able to diagnose his ailment,” said a doctor.

The flight left Mumbai for Kozhikode at 10.52 am.

A passenger recorded the ordeal on his cellphone.

Was being treated by local psychiatrist, say Kerala police
Kori Sanjay Kumar Gurudin, district police chief, Kannur, Kerala, told mid-day that Ismail hails from Panoor village in Kozhikode. “We have been told that he had been undergoing treatment with a local psychiatrist, but we are verifying this claim.”

Gurudin said the police will question Ismail once he is back in Kerala. “So far, we haven’t come across any criminal record of him, but investigation is on.”

He said Ismail is the fourth of eight siblings — five brothers and three sisters — and a divorcee. “His brothers are settled in the Gulf. Ismail is not well educated and was employed there at a shop.”

The Kozhikode police have search the family’s home in Kannur. “We haven’t received any direct call from the Mumbai Police so far,” said another police officer.

Airline speak
The flight made a precautionary landing at the Mumbai airport… The matter is now with the local authorities. At IndiGo, the safety and security of passengers and crew are top priority and at no time can safety be compromised.

— An IndiGo spokesperson

First Published: 29 July, 2016 08:10 IST

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