The Delhi Police registered an FIR against Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Friday for assaulting an Air India employee on Thursday even as Air India and six other domestic airlines barred him from their flights.
On Thursday, Mr. Gaikwad had assaulted an Air India duty manager, R. Sukumar, hitting him with his footwear ‘25 times’ as he had not been provided a business class seat, for which he had an open ticket, in an all-economy Pune-Delhi flight (AI 852).
Mr. Sukumar had filed a complaint with the Delhi Police on Thursday. Based on the complaint, the police on Friday registered an FIR under Sections 308 and 355 of the IPC amounting to attempt to culpable homicide and criminal assault with intent to dishonour a person respectively. The case has been sent to the Crime branch for a detailed probe. The police has also received a complaint by Mr. Gaikwad against Air India, which has been sent for legal examination.
After deciding to bar Mr. Gaikwad from their flights, Air India cancelled his return ticket to Pune on a 4 p.m. flight. Following this, IndiGo also refused to give him a ticket on their flight. Mr. Gaikwad eventually travelled to Mumbai by train in the evening.
“Air India and the member airlines of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) that includes IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Go Air, condemn the assault on an Air India staff member by a passenger, who happens to be a Member of Parliament, on March 23, 2017,” a joint statement from Air India and FIA said. Apart from Air India and the member airlines of FIA, two other airlines also barred Mr. Gaikwad from their flights.
The airlines have demanded that strict action be taken against Mr. Gaikwad by law enforcement agencies. “We believe that an assault on any one of our employees is an assault on all of us and on ordinary, law-abiding citizens of our country who work hard to earn a living,” the statement said.
“We believe that exemplary action should be taken in such incidents to protect employee morale and public safety,” the FIA said.
“SpiceJet supports a no-fly list to bar unruly flyers who are a safety hazard for not just the crew but even the travelling public. The government needs to act on this soon,” SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said. “An attack on our employees and crew is an attack on us and we strongly condemn such incidents,” he added. An IndiGo spokesperson also said the airline supports a no-fly list.
On Thursday, Mr. Gaikwad, who travelled by an Air India Pune-Delhi all economy flight (AI 852) hit Air India duty manager Sukumar with his sandals, broke his spectacles and even tried to throw him off the aircraft. Mr. Gaikwad was travelling with an open ticket and was reportedly miffed that he was not provided a business class seat on the all-economy flight. He refused to de-board from the aircraft for an hour, following which a team of airline officials tried to reason with him as the aircraft was to fly onward to Goa.
A defiant Mr. Gaikwad not only admitted that he had hit the Air India employee with his sandals ’25 times’, he also refused to apologise for his actions. Instead, he claimed that it was the airline that was at fault and should apologise to him.