The Biman Bangladesh passenger aircraft BG-147 was minutes - maybe, seconds -- away from a disaster. Conflicting reports do not help form a clear picture of the incident that took place in the mid-air but about the nature of threat there is no doubt whatsoever. The probe body formed to find answers to many unresolved questions have been given five days to submit its report. Until this happens, confusions over the incident are likely to deepen because of the statements -some of which are at variance and a few crucial ones are contradictory -dished out by the authorities concerned. For example, everyone claims that it is impossible for a person with firearms like a pistol or revolver to pass the many layers of security posts. But on Sunday, the day the plane hijacking attempt was made, it was repeated many times that not only did Md Palash Ahmed alias Mahadi carry a pistol but he had pouches of explosives fastened to his bosom. One report even claimed that he shot a bullet at the door of the aeroplane's cockpit.
Now there is a visible sign that the gravity of the incident is deliberately being made somewhat lighter. The man at the centre of this daredevil act is painted as a psychopath. It makes hardly any difference whether it is a militant or a psychopath so long as one gets on board a plane and holds its crew and passengers hostage or shoots to kill them or blows the plane up. It is not difficult to determine what he carried in his hands and on his person as the man was shot dead. If he had a weapon and explosives those cannot vanish in the thin air. There should have been no confusion about the weapon and explosives.
If the claim that no one with firearms can pass security check is right, logic suggests some on-duty security staff eligible to carry firearms may have helped him procure it. Yet it does not explain the explosives Mahadi carried. Is this then an attempt to hide the weakness of the system of security check at the Shahjalal International Airport? This will not help. Better call the spade a spade and suggest what can be done to put in place a fool-proof security system there in order to prevent a repeat of such incidents.
If the truth is not brought to the light, internationally the airport's security will face more questions than can be answered. That the army commandos could overpower the hijacker without any casualty on their side and for passengers and crew is highly creditable. During the Holey Artisan anti-terror campaign too the army commandos proved their mettle. But prevention is better than cure. There is no point fighting terror face to face. It is always better to give them no chance to get the better of a situation involving lives of many. Let the security at all sensitive entrances and exits be as tight as is humanly possible. Only then there will be no need for dealing with either psychopaths or terrorists.
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