In an incident that is bound to create a huge political controversy, a Shiv Sena parliamentarian on Thursday beat up an elderly Air India staff with his slippers and later boasted about it.
Ravindra Gaikwad, the first time MP from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad, attacked the staffer over a seating issue.
The MP admitted that he hit the staff. "I hit him with my sandal 25 times. Do you expect me to hear their abuses quietly?” Gaikwad said.
Yes,I had hit the staff. Do you expect me to hear their abuses quietly?: Shiv Sena MP R Gaikwad on hitting AI staff member with his slipper pic.twitter.com/eBCCwQ4bg3— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
WATCH: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad admits that he beat an Air India staff member with slippers,remains defiant pic.twitter.com/1ws5nYptkn— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
The AI staffer, identified as Sukumar, said that the MP not only hit him but also hurled abuses at him and humiliated him in front of the entire crew.
The incident took place on a Pune-Delhi flight AI 851 this morning.
Two FIR has been filed against the MP, one by the staffer and another by the carrier.
“Two FIRs have been lodged against him (Gaikwad), one by the victim Sukumar and another by Air India,” Harinder Singh, Delhi Airport Manager, said.
He added that the Air India staff was agitated at the MP’s behaviour and that is why he has been blacklisted.
The AI staffer formally complained to the airline about the incident. "God save our country if this is the culture and behaviour of our MPs," he wrote in his complaint letter.
A DGM of the Air India corroborated the incident and submitted a report to the CMD. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also asked for the report.
While Sukumar filed the FIR for the assault by the MP, the airline filed another FIR against Gaikwad for forcibly holding the flight and delaying it for 40 minutes.
It said that it was also examining creation of “no fly list of unruly passengers.”
"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," Air India said.
Yes he misbehaved with me,broke my glasses. I never expected this: Sukumar,Air India staff member beaten up by Shiv Sena MP R Gaikwad pic.twitter.com/FbJmFDtPNK— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
Listing out the 'facts' of the incident, Air India said in a statement, "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 allotted the seat in the first row itself since there is no business class on this flight."
"Flight AI 852 landed at IGI airport at 0935 hrs from Pune. The flight was supposed to be 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 carrier said.
"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 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 airline said.
Explaining the sequence of events, Sukumar said, "When I told him what he's asking isn't possible he (Shiv Sena MP R.Gaikwad) became abusive, used foul language and not only broke my specs but humiliated me in front of the whole crew."
Meanwhile, reactions have started pouring in following the incident. Aviation Civiel minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has expressed displeasure at the incident. "No political party will encourage physical assault. It should never have happened," the minister said.
Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, also tweeted about the incident.
“Unruly behaviour and violence on our aviation network is regrettable. Each such incident will be investigated and appropriate action taken,” he said.
No political party will encourage physical assault. It should never have happened: Ashok Gajapathi Raju,Civil Aviation Minister on R.Gaikwad pic.twitter.com/I78K7yUjB1— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
The Shiv Sena has also sought to distance itself from the entire episode saying the party does not endorse such behaviour.
He has agreed that he has done it, however Shiv Sena does not advocate such behavior: Manisha Kayande, Shiv Sena on R.Gaikwad pic.twitter.com/sqpyrBzKw1— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
The party has, however, called for a probe into the incident.
R.Gaikwad is a popular MP. We want to find out what made him lose his temper, what instigated him should be probed: M.Kayande,Shiv Sena pic.twitter.com/RaJ39w6jF4— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2017
Gaikwad has written to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Civil Aviation Min Ashok G Raju listing out problems plaguing Air India.