Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday asked the sector regulator to probe the October 15 incident in which an IndiGo airline passenger was manhandled by the carrier’s staff at Delhi airport. According to Raju, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will probe the incident and submit a report. “This type of barbarous things should not be allowed… violence has to be condemned… I have called for a report from the government agencies,” Raju told reporters.
Additionally, the Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued notice to the airline for not informing it about termination of service of employees who had access to airport secured areas.
The current rules mandate the airline to inform the BCAS when any employee is suspended or his services terminated and submit their airport entry passes (AEPs).
The development comes a day after a video showed IndiGo’s passenger Rajiv Katyal being manhandled by the airline’s staff after a verbal altercation. Details of the incident which took place on October 15 surfaced only on Tuesday after the video went viral on social media.
The video showed Katyal, who arrived from Chennai, waiting for a passenger bus at the airport when the incident took place. On Wednesday, IndiGo submitted a report on the incident to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. On Tuesday, Union Minister Jayant Sinha had sought a report from the budget carrier regarding the incident.
The airline, in its seven-page report said that its employee Montu Kalra — since sacked by IndiGo — who shot the video about the incident, was indeed the one who “instigated the incident and further provoked the customer by beginning to shoot a video on his mobile phone”. The airline said Kalra was a cargo employee and had no reason to approach the passenger area.
After the video surfaced, social media was abuzz, slamming the airline for terminating the services of Kalra, who was called a “whistleblower”.
“At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for this regrettable incident, we have also taken action… I personally called and apologised to Mr. Katyal (the customer) three weeks ago,” IndiGo airline’s President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh said in the report.
“Even during the pendency of the investigation, we recognised that whatever may have been the provocation, my colleagues should have exercised restraint. Even while the investigation was being conducted, we immediately suspended the involved employees.”
According to Ghosh, Kalra, whose services were 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”.
He said: “It is important for us to point out that Kalra was not terminated because he either shot a video or, as he is now claiming, brought this to our attention.”
The airline also clarified that another of its employees Juby Thomas was the one who brought the incident to the company’s notice.
“When our staff Juby Thomas saw Katyal inadvertently moving towards the catering high-lift (which was attached to the aircraft), Juby Thomas started waving frantically from a distance in order to ask Katyal to move away with the sole intention of preventing any accident,” the report described the incident.
“It is possible that due to the very noisy ramp area, Katyal could not hear Juby Thomas properly and which led to a miscommunication… Unfortunately, at the spur of the moment, it seems that Katyal asked Juby Thomas to F***_*ff. In hindsight, Juby Thomas should have probably ignored the remark, However, Juby Thomas turned around and asked Katyal why he is abusing him. To this, Katyal responded by asking Juby Thomas to go do his own work.”
“The irony of the fact is that Juby Thomas was indeed doing his work and ensuring safety of passengers. In an ideal scenario, Katyal would have moved away, boarded the bus from the ramp area and gone to the arrival hall and the matter would have ended there.”
“However, unfortunately, what transpired was something that is not in accordance with the laid down procedures and resulted in an incident which is a departure from IndiGo’s ethos.”