Odafe Okolie, Ogba Kalu Nnanna and Arindam Bhattacharya, three players of the Churchill Brothers football club, were granted bail on Wednesday morning after being taken into police custody on Tuesday night on charges of outraging the modesty of a SpiceJet air hostess on a flight from Goa to Kolkata.
The airline called the Mumbai airport security to report the players’ misbehaviour on board, resulting in the crew’s decision to offload the entire team in Mumbai, citing security concerns for the other passengers on flight SG 804.
After an identification parade involving the airhostess, the three footballers were booked under Sections 39, 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code relating to act, word or gesture intended to insult a woman’s modesty.
The Goan team was enroute to Kolkata for an I-League game against Mohun Bagan. The incident occurred after the flight took off. It is learnt that Odafe’s hand struck the airhostess’ back during an animated conversation with teammates. The Churchill striker apologised for the act.
Things got out of hand when the airhostess was reportedly subjected to obscene comments and gestures by unidentified players, forcing the cabin crew to confront the Churchill footballers and question their behaviour against a crew member.
The SpiceJet crew then called airport security control to report the players’ misbehaviour. The entire team was off-loaded at Mumbai, a transit point for the flight. A case was registered against the three on charges of assault on the modesty of a woman.
The Churchill Brothers team reached Kolkata on Wednesday.
Prakash Kamat writes from Panaji:
Suspecting a conspiracy to defame the Churchill Brothers team, Goa Minister for Public Works Churchill Alemao, who heads the club, announced on Wednesday that a defamation case would be filed against the airline at the earliest.
“I am consulting our lawyer whether it is criminal or civil defamation,” Mr. Alemao said. He was addressing a press conference here.
“There is a hundred per cent conspiracy to unsettle the winning combination,” he added. “It may be a political conspiracy or a ‘politics in sports” kind of conspiracy to defame and demoralise the team.” Mr. Alemao did not find any justification in the airline asking the entire team to disembark if only one or two people were involved in the alleged molestation case during the flight.