NEW DELHI:Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi faced a scary moment on the morning of September 14, when his aircraft was stranded on the runway because of a security risk—‘dangerous’ and ‘high risk’ fuel tank. He was taking IndiGo flight 6E 308 to Varanasi at 8.55 am from the Delhi airport’s Terminal 1D to campaign for his party in the upcoming UP Assembly polls.
His SPG protection detail, in the course of a routine security drill, took samples of aviation fuel to examine its purity, as the blue book for VVIP travel clearly states “sabotage can happen by fuselage”.
While conducting the Aqua-test of the fuel of the Indigo flight that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was to take to Varanasi from here, the SPG found the fuel tank to be contaminated to ‘dangerous’ levels. “The sample of fuel was tested not once, but four times. On all occasions, it was discovered contaminated well beyond its permissible limit. Eventually, the airline was asked to refuel to rule out any sabotage,” said a source. Refuelling took 50 minutes, and the flight was delayed for nearly an hour.
Sources close to Rahul claimed that since he was the first among the passengers to board the aircraft, the SPG was carrying out the security drill. While he was on board, the pilot announced that the flight has been delayed for 30 minutes because an SPG protectee was on board. Later, the pilot announced that the fight was delayed due to technical reasons.
Rahul took up the matter with the SPG director and requested for fuel tests to be conducted well in advance to avoid delays. Security sources claimed that whenever the Prime Minister, President or an SPG protectee travels in an aircraft—whether it belongs to the armed services, a private charter or a commercial airline—establishing the purity of fuel is a mandatory exercise as per the security manual.
When contacted, Indigo’s spokesperson said: “We cannot divulge any details on this matter.”