Shiv Sena MP beats AI officer with slippers

Airline files complaint, party seeks explanation
Report by: 
23 Mar 2017

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad hit a 60-year-old Air India duty manager with his slippers at least 20 times and tore his shirt at Indira Gandhi International  Airport here today, prompting the airline to file a police complaint.

According to an Air India spokesperson its duty manager at Delhi airport was hit with slippers several times by Gaikwad after he complained that he had to travel economy - on an all-economy flight - even though he had a business class ticket. The assault was acknowledged by the MP, who also remained defiant over the incident and instead sought an apology from the airline's chairman and managing director. Air India lodged a complaint with the police against the Shiv Sena MP for "assaulting" its duty manager at Delhi airport, an airline spokesperson said. Police said the officer, Sukumar, has been sent for medical examination and based on its report a case will be registered.

The spokesperson said that the airline has filed another complaint with the police against Gaikwad for allegedly delaying its flight by over 40 minutes by not vacating the aircraft for cleaning. Union civil aviation minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who is a TDP MP from Andhra Pradesh, condemned the incident saying that such physical assaults will not be "encouraged". "Physical assault won't be encouraged and will always be condemned. (This) Should never have happened...attacking an airline staffer doesn't make sense," Raju said.  According to the airline, Gaikwad had an open ticket in business class with Air India which allows a passenger to take a flight on any date. But Gaikwad insisted on taking the 7:35 am AI 852 this morning from Pune to Delhi, which is an all-economy flight.

After the flight landed in Delhi, he refused to disembark, sparking an argument between Air India staff and the politician. Gaikwad told television news channels that he asked the airline staff, Sukumar, to "lower his voice." "Then he said it was his responsibility to vacate the plane (de-board all passengers)... I did not alight, I kept sitting there for one hour, did not let clean the aircraft," Gailkwad told a news channel. Air India is mulling preparing a no-fly list for unruly passengers following the incident today. "Air India is examining creation of no-fly list of unruly passenger on the lines of other carriers," a senior airline official said.

Later today, Shiv Sena sought an explanation from its Lok Sabha MP who remained defiant over the incident. "The party has sought an explanation from Gaikwad over the incident. The Sena does not condone violence of any kind," Harshal Pradhan, media adviser to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, told news agency PTI. "We have also sought a version of the incident from the Air India (AI) staffer. The Sena has a workers' union in Air India," he said. (PTI)