Thursday, 23 March 2017

INDIA: MP Hits Air India Flight Attendant 25 Times On Pune To Delhi Flight

Shiv Sena MP admitted to beating an Air India flight attendant with a slipper following an argument over being moved to economy from business class.

"He was arrogant," Ravindra Gaikwad later said, expressing no regret. "I hit him 25 times with my sandal."

The incident took place on Thursday morning after the Air India flight from Pune landed in Delhi at around 10.30am.

Gaikwad refused to get off the plane as he was forced to travel economy despite carrying a business class ticket and did not accept the airline's explanation that there were only economy seats on the flight.

Gaikwad claimed an airline employee tried to make him exit the plane and told him not to give him "BP" (blood pressure).

"I said I am an MP, don't raise your voice. He said 'what MP? I will talk to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi', so I hit him. I am not here to take abuse,I am not from the BJP," the MP said.

The Air India steward has alleged that he was "humiliated in front of the entire crew and his spectacles were broken".

The Shiv Sena has sought an explanation from the MP on the issue. "The Sena does not condone violence of any kind," Harshal Pradhan, media adviser to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

His high-handedness drew flak online including from a leader of ally BJP.

"Elected representatives need to respect people who are doing their job, irrespective of whether the Air India man was rude," said Shaina NC, BJP leader Shaina NC.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday said that no political party will encourage such an act.

"It is a question of human behaviour. Any citizen hitting an airline staffer doesn't make any sense. If there is anything, it can always be taken up. No citizen will behave like this," Raju told said.

A Shiv Sena parliamentarian has been named in two FIRs or police complaints by Air India after he thrashed a 60-year-old airline employee with his slipper during an argument over a business class seat this morning. An unrepentant Ravindra Gaikwad bragged, "I hit him 25 times with my sandal."

The national carrier has decided to prepare a "no-fly" list of unruly passengers, say sources.

When Mr Gaikwad's flight from Pune landed in Delhi around 10.30 am, he refused to get off the plane for nearly an hour.

The lawmaker was reportedly upset about travelling economy when he has an open business class ticket that he is entitled to as a member of Parliament.

The morning flight he took was all-economy, but that failed to mollify him.

As he refused to budge or let the staff prepare the plane for its next flight, Customer Relations Manager Shiv kumar was called in. "I told him you are a senior person and asked him to sit down and BP mat badao (control your blood pressure). I said I am an MP, don't raise your voice. He said 'what MP? I will talk to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi', so I hit him. I am not here to take abuse...I am not from the BJP," the lawmaker shrugged.

Mr Shivkumar has alleged that he was "humiliated in front of the entire crew, his shirt was torn and spectacle broken" by the MP.

The airline has filed complaints accusing Mr Gaikwad of assaulting its staff as well as delaying the next flight.

Mr Gaikwad, 57, is a first-time lawmaker from Maharashtra and no stranger to controversy. In 2014, he was among a group of Sena members who tried to force-feed a Muslim employee of Maharashtra Sadan during Ramzan, complaining about bad food.

The MP has been skewered on social media and by various parties including ally BJP.

"Elected representatives need to respect people who are doing their job, irrespective of whether the Air India man was rude," said BJP leader Shaina NC.