We were portrayed as terrorists: Passengers of Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight

19 k- Abdul Khader 3 cro.jpg.crop_display.jpg

It was a harrowing 12 hours for passengers of the Air India Express (AIE) flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi . Having been diverted to Thiruvananthapuram owing to fog early Friday morning, the passengers did not expect to reach Kochi only at 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

The dramatic scenes at the Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi airports, and their confrontation with the crew of the aircraft and airport staff had clearly left them drained.

Some cried as they emerged from the Cochin International Airport and all had a huge grouse against the AIE crew and airport security.

“We were scheduled to touch down around 3.50 am in the morning at Kochi but are doing so at 4 pm in the afternoon. All we have had is a loaf of bread in all these hours and we are really tired,” said Mr Rashid of Palakkad.

Other passengers like Shanwas of Vadanappally, Abdul Rashid Parambil and Bithesh of Chavakkad said the flight had taken off an hour late from Abu Dhabi too.

Abdul Rashid of Bengaluru, who was with his wife, found the attitude of the AIE crew outrageous.

“There was a pregnant woman and a six month old child on board, but despite that they asked us to
disembark and go by road to Kochi, instead of arranging to fly us back here,” he said angrily.

“Two passengers were manhandled by the police at Thiruvananthapuram and attempts were even made to brand some of us extremists just because we protested,” said Mr Ravi of Pathanamthitta.

For Mr Viswanathan from Wayanad the delay was agonising as he was waiting to meet his daughter who was scheduled to leave for Singapore from Kochi Friday evening. “Thank God I will be able to meet her now,” he said, looking relieved.

Passengers stand by detained commuters

Five people and one family were detained in Kochi airport on charges of creating trouble on board the Kochi-bound Air India Express (AIE) flight from Abu Dhabi in Thiruvanantha-puram airport, after the flight arrived at the airport.

Before they could proceed to complete emigration formalities, Ashraf, Augusti-ne, Roushid, Manoj, Thom-son and Abdul Khader with his family including a six-month-old child were detai-ned by CISF at the emigration counter and their passports were seized.

This led to protests from other passengers who refused to leave the airport until their co-passengers were freed. Tense moments resulted even as a battery of media persons waited outside the airport.

Soon the word spread that some passengers had been detained. This in turn caused the relatives — who had been waiting for their dear ones — to panic. Around 4 pm when the passengers started coming out, there was still no clear idea as to what had happened to the detained persons.

Some 20 minutes later Abdul Khader who was amongst the detainees, exited the terminal and expressed his rage against what he called the high-handed attitude of the AIE. He said that all the passengers had raised their voices against the injustice but did not enter the cockpit.

He said he was even manhandled by the local police who entered the plane and breached the law.
Meanwhile local police officials played it safe at the airport donning the roles of onlookers.

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