US-based CEO Arrested Over Hoax Bomb Threat Says He Asked for ‘Bom-Del’ Status
Vinod Moorjani says he was misunderstood by the telephone operator when he asked for status of his “Bom-Del” flight.
A Virginia-based CEO of Indian origin, who was arrested on Dec. 31 for allegedly making a hoax call about a bomb at the Mumbai International Airport, told the court on Jan. 1 that his call was misconstrued by the telephone operator.
Vinod Moorjani, 45, said that all he wanted was to know the status of a “Bom-Del” flight and that his query was misunderstood by the telephone operator of the toll-free number of Mumbai airport as “bomb hai (there is bomb)”. His flight from Mumbai to Delhi was delayed due to the fog conditions in the national capital.
Moorjani was scheduled to travel from Mumbai to Delhi and then take a connecting flight to Rome, on the way to Virginia, along with his wife and children, an official told PTI. Moorjani called a toll-free number of Mumbai International Airport and apparently told the woman operator “bomb phata hai” (bomb exploded).
Moorjani is said to have hung up before the operator could hear more, after which she alerted her seniors who called the police. According to the operator, when she asked Moorjani to clarify his question, he had hung up, the news agency added. Moorjani was subsequently made to disembark his Delhi-bound flight and was soon arrested on Dec. 31.
The Sahar Police of Mumbai, who arrested him, identified Moorjani from the airport’s CCTV footage in the telephone booth. The official said that Moorjani’s motive was to disrupt the Delhi flight schedules so he could get a late night flight from New Delhi to Rome if his travel from Mumbai got delayed, the report added.
Moorjani was booked under IPC sections 506(II) (criminal intimidation), and 505(I)(b) (intent to cause fear or alarm to public). He was produced before the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Jan. 1 and released on a bail of Rs 15,000.
Moorjani’s lawyer said that his inquiry of the flight was misunderstood and that he only disconnected the line because of disturbance. His inquiry of the “Bom-Del” flight was misconstrued as “bomb hai,” the lawyer told the court.
This is not the first time the IATA code for Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) airport — “BOM” — caused a bomb scare. In 2016, a Jet Airways flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai was delayed by three and a half hours after a torn boarding pass with “bomb” written was found in the magazine pouch in the flight. More than 125 passengers were asked to deboard the plane, the Times of India reported. The aircraft was kept in isolation and searched by police and bomb disposal squad, who found out from the passenger on the seat that the “B” next to BOM (denoting Mumbai) was for his boarding gate, 47B. It was written for his reference by the agent at the check-in counter.