Investigation into the improvised explosive device (IED) found at the Mangaluru International Airport on Monday morning have led the police to probe whether there is a connection between the incident and the alleged bomb threat received by the airport manager the same afternoon.
According to the police, while the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was in the process of isolating the bomb, at around 3.30 pm on Monday, the Mangaluru Airport terminal manager received a threat call regarding a bomb in an IndiGo flight.
The caller allegedly informed the terminal manager that flight 6E-528 travelling from Mangaluru to Bengaluru had a bomb inside it. Police say that the flight, which was due to take off, was called back immediately. "Nothing was found inside the flight on checking. A complete sweep was done of the flight. The caller informed the terminal manager that the bomb in the flight was just a trailer to a larger picture. This scared them for a while,â€ť the police source said.
Mangaluru Police Commissioner PS Harsha said that the investigators are looking to see whether there is a connection between the bag of explosives and the threat call.
Investigators, meanwhile, are in the process of creating a timeline of the suspectâ€™s movements in the city before and after the bag with the IED was left at the ticketing counter at the airport. The police had on Monday released visuals of the suspect and the autorickshaw he used to get in and out of the airport.
Investigating officers say that the suspect got into a bus named Rajkumar at Mangaluruâ€™s State Bank Of India bus stop and got off at Kenjaru. Opposite the Kenjaru bus stop is the Royal Menâ€™s Saloon run by 30-year-old Salman Ali. Police say that the suspect got off the bus and approached Salman and allegedly asked him whether he could leave his bag inside the saloon for a few minutes while he ran a few errands.
Speaking to TNM, Salman Ali corroborated the policeâ€™s statement and said that a man wearing a white cap approached him after getting off a bus.
â€śI was standing outside the saloon and speaking to my mother when this man approached me. He was wearing a cap and looking down. I could not see his face properly but he spoke fluently in Tulu. He asked me if he could leave his bag inside my saloon. I told him he couldnâ€™t and asked him to leave,â€ť Salman Ali said.
Salman says that he saw the man get into an auto while he was walking into a hotel next to the saloon. Investigating officials, who have questioned the auto driver, who drove the suspect to the airport say that the man asked the driver to take him to the airport as he had to drop off a package.
â€śThe auto driver says that the suspect spoke to him in Tulu and that he was very friendly. He told the auto driver that once he dropped off the package, he had to go to Pumpwell bus stop. After the man left the bag at the ticket counter, he got into the same auto and got off at Pumpwell. He paid the auto driver Rs 400,â€ť the police said.
The auto driver is currently with the investigation team and will be let go after a four-member National Investigation Agency team, slated to arrive in Mangaluru questions him. â€śWe are trying to create a timeline of his movements after he got off at Pumpwell. We are also checking to whether any of the bomb threats received in other airports in the state have any connection to this incident. The BDDS (Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad) has detected the materials used in the IED and the technical team is trying to see if any clues can be found based on the materials detected,â€ť the police source said.