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POST TIME: 14 March, 2019 08:10:37 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 March, 2019 12:00:11 PM
Probe body finds security lapse at Shahjalal airport
Bid to hijack Biman plane
Shahed Siddique and Harun Ur Rashid, Dhaka

Probe body finds security lapse at Shahjalal airport

The high-power probe committee of the civil aviation and tourism ministry, formed to investigate the February 24 attempted hijacking of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane, has found security lapse and negligence at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

The committee found that a pistol-like object was passed through the scanner, escaping the eyes of security men. However, it could not confirm whether it was a "real pistol" or a "toy one". A member of the committee, not wanting to be named, told The Independent that Md Palash Ahmed, 24, was seen moving about suspiciously since his arrival at the airport. Analysing the video footage of the airport, the committee found that Palash came to the airport on a motorbike and stayed in the washroom for a long time. He managed to pass through the security checking along with his belongings.

However, the committee could not be sure about the objects strapped around the body of Palash. The probe body found problems with metal detectors and scanners in the security zone for checking passengers before they board the plane. It recommended stern action against persons for negligence of duty. The committee also recommended upgrade of the security system of international airports to avert such an incident in future.

The committee was headed by additional secretary Md Mokabbir Hossain. The other members are joint secretary Zanendra Nath Sarker, Director (flight safety & regulations) of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Wing Commander Chy M Zia UlKabir, director (planning) of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Air Commodore (rtd) Mahbub Jahan Khan, and senior security consultant of the CAAB, Group Captain (rtd) Md Alamgir.

The probe body was asked to submit its report within five working days and to come up with recommendations to ward off such untoward incidents in future.

Sources said the body has submitted its report to the secretary of the civil aviation and tourism ministry.

The incident of the attempted hijacking of a plane of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which was on its way to Dubai from Dhaka via Chattogram, occurred on February 24.

The flight, BG-147, made an emergency landing at Shah Amanat International Airport when the alleged gunman attempted to take command of the cockpit after the plane took off from Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport. After the plane landed at Chattogram, Air Force and other law enforcement agencies, including the police, Rapid Action Battalion and the Armed Police Battalion, handled the emergency situation.

Later, Army commandos arrived at the scene after being informed about the situation. The commandos exchanged fire with Palash after he refused to surrender. The raid took eight minutes to successfully neutralise the hijacker.

During the attempted hijacking, Palash had taken a crew member hostage, but all the passengers and crew members disembarked safely after the flight touched down at the Chattogram airport.

Soon after the incident, a criminal case was filed against Palash Ahmed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Aviation Security Anti-Crime Act with Patenga police station in Chittagong.

Later, the body of the hijacker was handed over to his family. His father, Pyar Jahan Sardar, received the body from the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) morgue.

Soon after this incident, on March 6, the scanner at Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport failed to detect a pistol and 10 bullets in the handbag of Bangladeshi actor Ilias Kanchan.

Just after five days of the Ilias Kanchan incident, a union council chairman was detained with a pistol at Shah Jalal Airport in Dhaka. Masud Chowdhury, chairman of Fulsara Union Parishad at Chougachha of Jessore district, was carrying a gun without notifying officials of the airport.

Such incidents have raised questions about the security at Dhaka airport. The probe body recommended modernisation of the security system of the airport.

KK