The Congress on Thursday demanded a thorough investigation and appropriate action after the special flight in which party president Rahul Gandhi and four other leaders were travelling developed “unexplained technical snags”, ANI reported. In a letter to the Karnataka police chief, the Congress suggested that the aircraft could have been tampered with. It has asked the police to ground the aircraft till the investigation was completed.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, however, said the incident was caused by a snag with the autopilot mode, which is not uncommon, ANI reported. The authority promised to conduct a detailed examination of the case.

Gandhi began his campaign in Karnataka on Thursday ahead of the Assembly elections on May 12. According to the letter sent to Neelmani N Raju, Karnataka director general and inspector general of police, he was travelling with Kaushal K Vidyarthee and two others from Delhi to Hubli on Thursday morning when their flight “tilted heavily” towards the left and its “altitude dipped steeply, combined with violent shuddering” of the fuselage. The Congress also pointed out that “the weather outside was sunny, normal and not windy”.

The passengers also heard “clanking noises” from one side of the plane and learnt that the flight’s autopilot function was purportedly not working. “The whole flight experience left the passengers with a lot of anxiety and distress and positively fearing for their lives,” the letter read, adding that the plane only managed to land in Hubli on its third attempt.

The complaint added that the “suspicious and faulty performance of the aircraft” was not normal or weather-related, and that the flight should be grounded till an investigation into the incident is completed.