India Home Minister Patil was stuck on flight when terror struck city
Monday, 18 July 2011 07:00
When three blasts shook Mumbai on July 13, Home Minister R R Patil felt as helpless as a common citizen struggling to get back home that evening.
on board a Nagpur-bound flight and he could not attend to the crisis immediately because the pilot denied him permission to get off the plane while it was still at the Mumbai airport.
He was forced to travel to Nagpur and take a return flight after landing there post 8 pm.
Patil had planned to visit Nagpur to offer condolences to the family of social activist Sadhana Amte, who died a few days ago. He learnt about the blasts after boarding Air India flight IC629 with his assistant, Sunil Bhajnavale.
Â â€śMinutes after the explosions on Wednesday evening, my personal assistant called up on Bhajnavaleâ€™s cellphone. By that time, the plane had already started taxiing for take-off, and the cabin crew asked us to switch off the mobile,â€ť the minister said.
Â â€śJust when we were turning off the phone, we received an SMS from my PRO (Kishor Gangurde) that blasts seem to have occurred in the city.â€ť
Patil said that through the cabin crew, he informed the pilot that he wanted to get off the plane. â€śThe pilot, however, said that this was not possible,â€ť he said. The flight was supposed to depart from the Mumbai airport at 6.40 pm, but it was slightly delayed.
Air India spokesperson and deputy general manager Swaminathan refused to comment on what transpired in the plane. (Mumbai Mirror)