We want reliable information about ‘aircraft hijack’ attempt

We want reliable information about ‘aircraft hijack’ attempt

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The Biman Bangladesh Airlines aircraft, which was hijacked by a lone gunman midair, is seen on the tarmac at

Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong on Sunday, February 24, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Prothom Alo Feb 27, 2019

There are questions over the ‘attempt to hijack’ a Dubai-bound Biman Bangladesh Airlines aircraft that took place on Sunday afternoon. The aircraft, ‘Mayurpankhi’, had to make an emergency landing at the Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram.

The chief of Zahurul Haq Base of the air force, Mofizur Rahman at around 8:00pm on Sunday told the media that they had arrested an armed man aged around 25 years.

Later, the GOC of Chittagong, major general SM Matiur Rahman at a press briefing in front of the VIP lounge of the airport said, “a gunman was killed in the commando operation. He had a pistol.”

However, the civil aviation authorities filed a case with Chittagong’s Patenga model police station on Monday without mentioning the recovery of a pistol or any weapon. It said, “Bombs or weapon-like objects were seen in the miscreant’s hand. He blasted two objects that resemble crackers.”

Chittagong police commissioner Mahbubur Rahman told the media on the night before filing the case that the object found was a toy pistol and he did not have any explosives.

The GOC of Chittagong said the hijacker and the para-commando force traded fire inside the aircraft and the man died in the shootout. However, the chairman of Civil Aviation M Naim Hassan said that there would be holes on the walls of the aircraft if there was any shootout. They did not find any such signs.

The whole situation has become quite mysterious because of such contradictory statements. A number of questions araise – did the hijacker named Palash Ahmed really have pistols and explosives? If he had, then how did he manage to board on a aircraft bypassing so many layers of security measures? Is it possible to do so without the support of someone at the airport? And if he had no arms and explosives, then why did the situation need a commando operation? What was the logic of conducting a commando operation when the young man was alone in the plane after the departure of all the passengers? Or could he have been given more time to surrender?

These questions beg answers. A committee was formed on Sunday to investigate into the incident. A number of media reports quoting the aviation secretary say, the investigation report submitted by the committee may answer many of the questions. But we have seen in the past in such cases that these things never get public. As a result, we could not develop a culture where the government agencies could be held accountable.

The incident could tarnish the image of the country because it puts the security of the main airport into question. And the public also has the right to know what exactly happened that day. So it is absolutely necessary to make public a credible explanation after a thorough investigation.

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