Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday strongly condemned the assault on a passenger by IndiGo staff and has sought an independent report from regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), saying that fisticuffs are not acceptable in a civilised society. The minister also said that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) will check whether certain procedures were violated, as the incident happened in the security area. The development follows after a video surfaced on Tuesday showing IndiGo staff assaulting a passenger at the Delhi airport on October 15 on the tarmac — a security area that falls under the airside. nbRaju said that in a civilised society, there is no place for violence. “Fisticuffs of any kind have to be condemned and we want to condemn these kinds of incidents,” he told reporters.
The DGCA has been asked to submit an independent report on the incident, he said while stressing that such barbarous things should not happen. Earlier in the day, IndiGo promoter Rahul Bhatia held meetings with Raju and civil aviation secretary RN Choubey. Commenting on the incident, Choubey said “this is not on”.
Soon after the video surfaced, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha condemned the incident and has sought a report from the airline. Meanwhile, IndiGo on Wednesday wrote a letter to the ministry apologising for the incident but maintained that the employee was doing his work. In the video, a passenger is first seen being stopped from entering a coach, and then being pulled back by a ground staff. Another airline employee is seen restraining the traveller. The passenger is seen fighting back and falling to the ground in the melee.
“At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for the regrettable incident, we have also taken action,” IndiGo president and whole-time director Aditya Ghosh wrote in a letter Raju. He said that he apologised to the passenger on the same day the incident took place and the employees involved were immediately suspended. While giving a chronology of events in the letter, Ghosh also backed his employee Juby Thomas who was seen in the video entering into a scuffle with the passenger. “He was indeed doing his work and ensuring safety of passengers,” the letter said. It said Thomas was asking the passenger to move away from a catering lift to “prevent any accident”.
However, when the passenger could not hear Thomas, the latter “started shouting in a much louder voice to overcome the very loud ambient noise around the aircraft”, which might have been construed as rude by the passenger, it said. According to IndiGo, the passenger abused the airline staff and the employee turned around and asked him why was he abusing. Ghosh has included screenshots of the video to explain how the events unfolded last month. The airline also defended its move to sack another ground staff Montu Kalra for shooting the video and said he “instigated the incident”. “The ex-employee, Montu Kalra who was terminated and is claiming to be the ‘whistleblower’, is the one you can hear shouting in the video and instructing the other two colleagues who were junior to him to prevent the customer from boarding the bus and holding him back at the ramp area itself,” Ghosh wrote.