'Banned' by all major airlines, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad was forced to take a train instead, even as the Delhi Police slapped him with an FIR yesterday
Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad
High-flying MP Ravindra Gaikwad's wings have been clipped, after nearly all domestic airlines 'banned' him in an unprecedented step in Indian aviation history. The Shiv Sena MP finally boarded a train to Mumbai on Friday.
The Delhi Police also lodged an FIR against the Osmanabad MP for slapping an Air India staffer "25 times" with his slipper and holding up a flight by 40 minutes with unruly behaviour. mid-day had reported yesterday the MP thrashed 62-year-old duty manager R Sukumar on a Pune-Delhi flight because he was upset at being made to fly Economy - on a flight that had only Economy class.
Grounded in Delhi
Taking retributive action, the national airline cancelled Gaikwad's return ticket to Pune after he boastfully asserted he would board the afternoon flight back. IndiGo followed suit and banned him, as did several other air operators.
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) - comprising Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir - issued a statement declaring it has decided to "ban" the MP from flying on its aircraft. In a press statement, the FIA said: "We also propose the promulgation of a no-fly list that shall include the names of all unruly passengers. Such customers are not welcome on our carriers and we seek the support of the government and security agencies to enforce such a list."
Non-FIA member airlines - AirAsia India and Vistara - also came out in support of the ban, which left Gaikwad grounded at the capital.
Gaikwad finally boarded the August Kranti Rajdhani Express to Mumbai. He will arrive in the city today, and is likely to meet party chief Uddhav Thackeray to explain his stand over the entire row.
Despite this fall from grace, the Shiv Sena MP remained unrepentant for his conduct, which sparked nationwide outrage. Gaikwad appeared on national TV, declaring he had no regrets, instead demanding that the AI employee apologise instead.
He nonchalantly made it known to the media that he had watched a movie - Badrinath ki Dulhaniya - hours after the unsavoury incident in order to "relax".
"Kaahe ka pashchaataap (what is there to repent)?" he said, adding, "I will not apologise... he (Sukumar) should apologise, then we will see. A 60-year-old man should also know how to behave."
Sukumar demanded that the MP must be punished. "Apart from hitting me with sandals several times, he repeatedly used expletives like MC, BC. Police action should be taken to restrain these people from doing this kind of thing again. That is the most important thing. They should not take it as their birthright to assault a person," he said.
The Delhi Police registered an FIR against Gaikwad under Sections 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour a person) of the IPC. The case was transferred to the Crime Branch. Gaikwad filed a cross-complaint to DCP (Airport) Sanjay Bhatia, alleging misbehaviour by Air India officials.
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Gaikwad was not available for comment.
With Agency Inputs
Bouquets and chappals for Gaikwad
Aam Aadmi Sena activists hold roses and slippers to protest against MP Ravindra Gaikwad's conduct. "We will first show Gandhigiri by giving a flower to the MP and ask for an apology. If he doesn't do that, we will use the chappal and give him the same treatment he gave to the Air India employee," they said.
Security personnel were deployed at IGI airport in New Delhi yesterday, where protestors were also gathered in wait for Ravindra Gaikwad to arrive for his return flight to Pune. Pics/PTI
Sena distances itself from controversy
The Shiv Sena yesterday distanced itself from the ongoing controversy. Senior party MP, Sanjay Raut said the party does not endorse Gaikwad's act.
"It is not the party agenda to hit anyone. What Gaikwad did was the reaction of an individual to an argument with the airline staff, and not the party's order or diktat."
However, he also questioned the airlines for their action to blacklist the party MP from air travel, suggesting that they were making an example out of Gaikwad. "Just because a Sena MP is involved in the row, airlines are trying to milk the situation, instead of talking about improving the services," Raut said, adding, "Impartial inquiry should be conducted in this case to find reasons to what provoked Gaikwad to react in such manner."
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