Bomb or BOM-DEL? Indian-origin CEO arrested over hoax threat claims he was checking flight status

In another cautionary tale about what can go wrong with travel plans, an Indian-origin CEO of a US-based company was arrested for allegedly making a hoax bomb call at the Mumbai International Airport, while he claims he was checking on his flight status. 

the caller, his wife and children were offloaded from the Delhi-bound flight
The caller moorjani, his wife and children were offloaded from the Delhi-bound flight. Photo courtesy:

​Vinod Moorjani, 45, CEO of an IT company, was scheduled to travel from Mumbai to Delhi and then fly on the Delhi-Rome Air India flight, en route to Virginia, along with his wife and two children. Amidst flight delays on Sunday, Moorjani made a call to a toll free number linked to Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL)'s control room at 2.30pm IST. The seemingly innocent call later led to his arrest, the Times of India reported.

According to Moorjani, when the call connected, he asked the operator for ‘Bom-Del status’, referring to the Mumbai-Delhi route. The operator at the other end asked him what he meant by that. Moorjani then hung up. However, going by the operator's version, she heard Moorjani say ‘bomb hai’ (there is a bomb) before he quickly disconnected without replying to her question, which heightened her suspicions.

Two hours later, around 4.30pm, the caller, his wife and children were offloaded from the Delhi-bound flight. According to the police statement in court, Moorjani had made a bomb hoax call to disrupt schedules so that he could still get the late-night connection from Delhi to Rome in case he was late in arriving in the capital.

Investigators went through CCTV footage inside the airport and found Moorjani making a call to an emergency number from one of the booths at around 2.30pm, said sources.

Sahar police senior inspector Lata Shirsat confirmed the arrest and said Moorjani was a US national who had been held for making a threat call.

Moorjani was arrested at around 6.30pm on Sunday and produced before the Andheri Metropolitan Court yesterday where he was released on INR15,000 bail. He has been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 505 (1) (b) (intent to cause fear or alarm to the public) and 506 (II) (criminal intimidation). Moorjani's lawyer argued that his client's intention was not to make a threat call and that the woman in the control room had misunderstood him. Moorjani claimed that he made the call to check on flight delays and used the flight code to check the status. However, the operator did not listen to what he was saying.