A prime suspect in Mangaluru airport bomb case was arrested in Bengaluru as he surrendered at Karnataka's Director General of Police (DGP) office on Wednesday, January 22. 

Adithya Rao, prime suspect in MIA bomb case. Image: IANS

Adithya Rao, a 36-year-old man, identified as a 'habitual hoax caller' has been taken for further interrogation by a team of police officials from Mangaluru.

On Monday morning, January 20 Mangaluru airport was on a high alert after an unattended bag with a low-intensity explosive was recovered at the terminal building. Rao confessed to have planted the bomb at the Mangaluru airport.

'Suspect not part of any terror module'

According to a police official, "Adithya Rao, the prime suspect in placing an improvised explosive device (IED) or bomb at the Mangaluru international airport on Monday, was arrested after he surrendered at the DGP office." 

"Rao will be taken to the state-run Victoria Hospital for a check-up and then will be produced before a local court for his custody and investigation into the case," the official said.

Mangaluru Police Commissioner, IPS officer PS Harsha said, "We have dispatched our team to interrogate him and will then take further legal action. It is too early to say anything else right now." 

IPS Harsha

Previously, Adithya Rao has been probed for making bomb threat hoax calls to airports and railway stations in the state. According to preliminary reports, He is not part of any terror module. The port city of Mangaluru is about 360km from Bengaluru on the west coast in the southern state.

What happened at Mangaluru airport? 

It all began on Monday, January 20 at 8.45 am when Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the paramilitary force mandated to guard the terminal building, recovered a black bag at the IndiGo ticket counter and later a Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) declared that an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) had been put inside it.

CISF Deputy Inspector General Anil Pandey told that it was a "low intensity" IED. The IED had been put inside the cooling pit and defused. "The CISF scrutinised the CCTV footage outside the terminal building and it was found that a man wearing a white cap left the bag at the IndiGo counter and left the airport in an autorickshaw," Pandey said.

The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) takes the low intensity Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that was found inside an unattended bag at the Mangalore airport, being carried for diffusion in Mangaluru on Jan 20, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

It was learnt that the bag was full of nails and some components — battery, wire, timer, switch and detonator necessary for manufacturing an IED, said sources.

As the security agencies went into a tizzy with CISF and state police personnel busy sanitizing airport terminal, an unknown threat call was received by terminal manager around 3.30 pm regarding a bomb aboard an IndiGo flight from Mangalore to Bengaluru (6E-528).

Sources said the flight, which was due to take off, was called back for checks. "Nothing objectionable was found in the flight on checking. A complete sanitization operation was carried out at the Mangaluru airport after the caller threatened that it is just a "trailer", the official said.

The Mangaluru Police then released photographs and the CCTV footage of the suspected man getting out of the terminal building and the autorickshaw in which he left. 

Suspect earlier arrested for hoax bomb calls to Bengaluru airport in 2018? 

Adithya Rao
Adithya Rao

Rao, who was taken to Halsoor Gate police station in Bengaluru for questioning, is an engineering graduate and an MBA holder. He had earlier been arrested for making a hoax bomb call to Bengaluru airport in 2018 and was jailed for six months.

This was an act of revenge as he was denied the job of a security guard at the Bengaluru International Airport which he had applied for due to lack of certain documents.  Rao had come to Bengaluru in 2012 seeking a job and landed one in a private bank, which he resigned.

He then returned to Mangaluru, where he worked as a security guard for six months and then as a cook in Puthige Mutt in Udupi. Later, he went back to the state capital and joined an insurance company, which he left and tried to become a security staff at the airport, the sources said.