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December 27, 1999
Punjab officials deny goof-up at Amritsar
The civil and police administrations in Chandigarh today denied reports that the situation arising out of the landing of the hijacked aeroplane at Raja Sansi airport in Amritsar on December 24 was not handled properly.
''These allegations are not based on facts. There was no complacency or inefficiency in the handling of the situation,'' a senior officer said.
He said as soon they received information about the hijacking, all concerned members of the district-level crisis management unit was alerted. As the inspector general of police (border range) was out of station, IGP (commando) J P Birdi, who had first hand experience of handling such situations, was asked to take charge.
The DIG border range, much before the landing of the hijacked plane, had the operational component in place at strategic points. Minute-to-minute contact was maintained by the district control room and the Punjab police control room.
The officer said as soon as the hijacked flight landed at Raja Sansi airport, police commandos cordoned off the air-strip.
DIG border and other senior officers tried to open communication with the hijackers from the air traffic control tower. The hijackers, however, insisted on immediate refuelling and threatened to kill passengers if their demands were not met.
District officials said the National Security Guards headquarters at Delhi was kept informed about these developments.
However, as the fuel tankers moved towards the aeroplane, the hijackers panicked and forced the pilot to take off.
''Had the fuel tankers tried to block the runway in such a situation the results would have been disastrous,'' the district officials said.
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