Foreign plane detained at Jaipur (Lead)

June 11th, 2012 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) India has detained a foreign-operated chartered plane, flying from Karachi to Dhaka, at Jaipur after it deviated from its flight path and flew over a high-security Indian Air Force (IAF) combat base in Rajasthan late Sunday.

The plane had, as per its flight plan, landed at Jaipur airport for refuelling when it was detained and the two-member crew taken into custody for questioning by the Indian intelligence agencies, a defence ministry official in Jodhpur said Monday.

The chartered plane, a Dornier 228 that can also be used as a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, originated from Muscat. It had stopped in Karachi before flying to Jaipur. It was scheduled to leave for Bangkok before reaching Dhaka.

Apart from the two crew members, the plane was also carrying two passengers on board, the official said.

The plane had been approved for flying over Indian airspace and was in touch with the Delhi Air Traffic Control.

However, the Jaipur airport was alerted by the IAF officers from the Jodhpur air base, over which the plane had flown.

Usually such planes are used for taking high resolution pictures of strategic defence assets within enemy territory from the air. This military capability was what triggered an alert in the IAF, which promptly informed Indian security agencies in Jaipur after learning that it was landing there soon, the official added.

Indian officials are at present interrogating the plane’s crew and the two passengers. The crew had claimed that the plane’s global positioning system had gone haywire, resulting in the flight path deviation.

However, unconvinced Indian officials are continuing with the questioning to figure out who had hired the plane and what the purpose of its chartering was, the official added.

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