All 27 team members to file defamation suit individually

The controversy over the deplaning of Kerala Strikers Celebrity Cricket team from a Hyderabad-bound aircraft in Kochi appears to have taken a new turn with the repeated attempts to resolve the issue failing to yield any breakthrough.

“All the 27 members who had been with the team will be filing defamation suits individually, while the team management will move a petition in the consumer protection forum demanding compensation for the financial losses it incurred,” said Edavela Babu, the manager of Kerala Strikers team.

Police officers said a conciliatory talk, held between the team and representatives of the airline’s legal department at the airport police station on April 6, broke down as both the parties stuck to their earlier stands. “While the team insisted on the airline repaying ticket fares of all its members, the airline rejected the demand citing the reason that the company policy stipulated no such refunds,” said Raj Kumar P., the Circle Inspector of police who mediated the talks.

The incident took place on February 21, as the flight, scheduled to takeoff from the Nedumbassery International Airport at 1 p.m. was delayed for over an hour and a half following allegations that the team members misbehaved on the flight. The airline alleged that a group of 30 people, who were later identified as members of the Kerala Strikers team, laughed and clapped as the airhostess was delivering safety instructions, which caused disturbance to other passengers on the flight.

The team, however, refuted the charge and held that an airhostess on the flight behaved rudely with them and the captain immediately ordered that they be removed without seeking an explanation.

Kerala Strikers also filed a complaint with the Nedumbassery police, accusing the airline staff of disrupting their practice and wasting their time. Later in the evening, they took separate flights for Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, police officers said investigations so far revealed that the players did not misbehave with the airline crew. “Based on a petition from the cricket team, we collected statements from a couple of passengers of the same aircraft, who maintained that the team members had been just cheering the crew and that they were offloaded needlessly,” the Circle Inspector added.

More In: Kochi