New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport witnessed dramatic scenes on Thursday morning after Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad reportedly hit an Air India employee repeatedly with his footwear as he was not allotted a business class seat on an all economy flight.
The employee has since lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police.
The airline is now “examining the creation of no- fly list of unruly passengers on the lines of other carriers.”
Mr. Gaikwad, a Shiv Sena Member of Parliament from Maharashtra's Osmanabad constituency, was travelling from Pune to Delhi by AI 852.
In a statement, Air India said the flight landed at Delhi airport at 9.35 a.m. from Pune and was then supposed to be operated to Goa at 10.55 a.m.
“After arrival of the flight, all passengers disembarked except the MP. The MP was holding an open business class ticket and wanted to travel on this flight,” the statement said. The airline said the MP’s PA had been in touch with its Pune Airport manager from Wednesday regarding the MP’s travel to Delhi.
“The airport manager told the PA this is an all economy flight operated regularly. Since the MP wanted to travel on this flight he was allotted the seat in the first row itself since there is no business class on this flight,” the statement said.
Air India said after the MP refused to leave the aircraft for almost an hour, the airline's shift manager requested Mr. Gaikwad to deplane since 115 passengers were waiting to board the flight to Goa.
“While the staff was requesting, the MP became abusive and started hitting AI employee with slippers. Mr. Gaikwad also tried to throw him out from the aircraft and was stopped by other AI staff,” the statement said. The 60-year-old employee, R. Sukumar is a duty manager with Air India.
MP admits hitting
While talking to TV channels, Mr. Gaikwad admitted that he did hit the Air India employee and said it is the airline that should apologise to him instead because its staff had first misbehaved with him.
“Yes, I beat him with my sandal 25 times. Should I tolerate abuses just because I'm an MP?” Mr Gaikwad told TV channels. “I can try to make someone understand something 10 times but if they don't, then I will beat them. It is the airline that is at mistake and they should apologise to me,” he said.
In the complaint given to the police, Mr. Sukumar explained the turns of events that took place on the flight. He alleged that the Shiv Sena MP had refused to deboard the aircraft after repeated requests.
According to the complaint, Mr. Gaikwad wanted to meet the top management, to which Mr. Sukumar, Duty Manager and in-charge of the flight, told him that it was not possible and explaied that he and his team would have to dispatch the flight to Goa on time for which 115 passengers were waiting. Mr. Sukumar alleged that upon hearing this, Mr Gaikwad abused him and forced him to speak in Hindi.
“He used foul language and bad words against me and abused me with all bad words against me and he started beating me and took out his slippers and started hitting me,” wrote Mr. Sukumar.
He also wrote that in the process, Mr Gaikwad broke his spectacles and “tore away the button” of his cardigan.
“I can only say God save our country if this is the culture and behaviour of our MPs,” he added.
Mr. Sukumar was sent for medical examination following which the police decided against lodging an FIR based on the complaint at the moment.
“We have got the medical report. There is no cognizable offence made as per the report. We are seeking legal opinion and according to that, action will be taken,” DCP (Airport) Sanjay Bhatia told The Hindu.
An Air India spokesperson said: “The Shiv Sena MP was travelling on Air India flight 852 Pune-Delhi. It was a full economy class flight. He was holding a business class open-dated ticket [ticket without a date]. He wanted to travel to Delhi and our staff informed him that he has an open-dated ticket. The staff clearly told him that it's an economy class plane and he didn't mind. But after landing in Delhi, he was not de-boarding the plane. Our airport staff requested him to deboard but he, instead, showed disappointment over not getting a business class seat, started hitting them with his slippers. We are investigating the matter.”
Air India statement
There was an incident this morning involving Mr Ravindra Gaikwad, Member of Parliament travelling from Pune to Delhi by AI 852 and the following are the facts :
· Flight AI 852 landed at IGI airport at 0935 hrs from Pune.
· The flight was supposed to operated to Goa at 1055hrs.
· After arrival of the flight, all passengers disembarked except the MP.
· The MP was holding open business class ticket and wanted to travel on this flight.
· The MP’s PA was in touch with our Pune Air Port manager from yesterday regarding the travel of the MP to Delhi.
· The airport manager told the PA this is an all economy flight operated regularly.
· Since the MP wanted to travel on this flight he was alloted the seat in the first row itself since there is no business class on this flight.
· The MP refused to come out of the aircraft for almost an hour
· AI’s shift manager upon learning the situation requested Mr. Gaikwad to deplane the aircraft since 115 passengers are waiting to board the flight to Goa.
· While the staff is requesting the MP hebecame abusive and started hitting AI employee with slippers. Mr. Gaikwad also tried to throw him out from the aircraft and was stopped by other AI staff.
· Air India after enquiring into the incident filed two FIR’s with the police at Delhi.
· One FIR is for assaulting the employee.
· The second FIR is for delaying the flight for 40minutes.
· Air India is also examining the creation of no fly list of unruly passengers on the lines of other carriers.