Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has strongly condemned the assault on a passenger by IndiGo staffers and sought a report from DGCA. The DGCA has been asked to submit a report on the incident, he said. Meanwhile, the airline admitted that it was at fault and apologised.
Taking note of the incident, a video clip of which went viral on Tuesday, Raju asserted that fisticuffs have no place in a civilised society. He said aviation regulator DGCA would be asked to submit an independent report and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) would check whether certain procedures were violated as the incident took place in the security area.
In a seven-page letter submitted to the ministry, IndiGo said action was taken against the staffers.
On Tuesday, a video surfaced showing an IndiGo staffer assaulting a passenger, Rajeev Katyal, at the Delhi airport. The incident happened on October 15 on the tarmac – a security area that falls under airside. The ministry had sought a report from the airline.
In the morning, IndiGo promoter Rahul Bhatia met Raju and civil aviation secretary RN Choubey regarding the incident. “Let me start by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for this incident, we have also taken action,” IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said in the letter.
Choubey said the BCAS has been asked to suspend the airport entry permits of the three IndiGo staffers.
Ghosh said that he had apologised to the passenger and the employees involved were immediately suspended.
About Juby Thomas, who is seen in the video scuffling with the passenger, the letter said that there was miscommunication between the two, possibly due to the very noisy ramp area. While Katyal might have felt that Thomas was rude, the letter said, the reality is that the latter was “only trying to ensure the safety of Katyal and prevent an accident,” as he was moving towards the catering high lift. “The irony fact is that Juby Thomas was indeed ensuring safety of passengers,” the letter noted.
However, when the passenger could not hear Thomas, the latter “started shouting in a much louder voice to overcome the loud noise around the aircraft”, which might have been construed as rude by Katyal, it said.
According to IndiGo, the passenger abused the airline staffers and the employees asked Katyal why he was abusing them. Out of three employees involved, IndiGo said it dismissed Montu Kalra while warning letters were issued to Thomas and Sahiv Sharma. IndiGo said that Kalra, who is claiming to be the whistleblower, is the one who is shouting in the video and instructing the two other junior colleagues to prevent Katyal from boarding the bus. The airline said Kalra “instigated the incident”.
“It is important to point out that Montu Kalra was not terminated because he shot a video or as he is now claiming, brought this (incident) to our attention,” the report said. It was Thomas who brought the incident to the airline’s attention, IndiGo said.
In the video, Katyal is first seen being stopped from entering a coach, and then being pulled back by a ground staff. Another airline employee is seen restraining Katyal. The passenger is seen fighting back and falling to the ground in the melee.