An armed man boarding Biman’s flight plane mysterious

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has started a case for the attempted hijacking of a Bangladesh Biman Airlines aircraft.
Debtosh Sarker, technical assistant of CAAB, filed the case at Patenga police station in Chittagong on Monday (25th February) night.
However, formal news media and various informal social media have put forward questions relating to the narration of event and the use of arms as described in the case document, the statements by law enforcing officials, civil aviation officials , a lawmaker present on the spot and the concerned Minister.
Meanwhile, the father of the alleged hijacker was taken to Potenga to identify the body that was escorted to his village home for burial at family graveyard in Narayanganj against the disapproval of the father.
Hamidul Alam, deputy commissioner (Port) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, reportedly told the news media that the case was filed against Palash Ahmed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Aviation Security Anti Crime Act.
On 24th February evening, Palash managed to hijack Biman’s Flight BG-147 mid-air after it took off from Dhaka, and forced the pilot to land at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong.
He did not harm any passengers or crew members, but had demanded to talk to the prime minister and his wife. However, Palash was killed security forces during their raid.
No other casualties took place during the one and a half hour crisis.
On 25th February morning, Rapid Action Battalion confirmed that a fingerprint search of the suspected hijacker in their criminal database matched that of Palash, of Narayanganj’s Sonargaon area.
The plane was en route to Dubai from Dhaka, with a stopover in Chittagong, when the incident took place on 24th February, (Sunday) Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Mohibul Haque said.
The jetliner made an emergency landing at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong at 5:15 p.m. (1315 UTC).
Police said security forces stormed the plane and tried to arrest the lone suspect, a Bangladeshi man, aged around 25.
SM Matiur Rahman, a major general in the Bangladesh Army, said the suspect acted aggressively toward officers on the plane, and in response, commandos opened fire on the man, who was injured and immediately detained.
He died a short time later as he was being transported from the scene.
“We didn’t have the chance to negotiate. Our commandos had to act swiftly,” Rahman said.
The army official said the suspect, asked to speak to his wife or to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Airline officials said all passengers had safely exited the plane.
“All 150 plus passengers are safe,” Air Vice Marshall Nayeem Hasan told French news agency AFP, adding that it was unclear what the man’s intentions were.
“We think he is a suspected madman. He is saying that he has a bomb, but we are not sure,” Hasan said.
One passenger told reporters in Chittagong that the suspect “fired twice … just ten minutes after the plane took off [from Dhaka].”
Meanwhile, question has been raised how a passenger could board the plane with a deadly weapon as described by the agencies.
An investigation would determine whether security lapses at the airport had occurred, officials reported said.
[The writer is a former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.]

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