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A video allegedly showing security staff of India's IndiGo airline manhandling a passenger went viral on Monday, prompting the federal government to launch an investigation into the incident involving the country's biggest airline.
In the video, widely shared on social media and televised on local news channels, at least two IndiGo staff members can be seen pinning a passenger down on the ground after an argument on the tarmac at New Delhi airport. A passenger is first seen being stopped from entering a coach, then pulled back by a ground staff. Another airline employee is seen restraining the traveller.
The male passenger shouts and attempts to fight back but is overpowered by the IndiGo staff.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
"This is absolutely unacceptable," Jayant Sinha, India's junior minister for civil aviation said. Sinha tweeted:
Indigo passenger incident from Oct 15 is deplorable and unfortunate. Passenger safety and security is our top-most priority. 1/n— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) November 7, 2017
has been terminated. Indigo senior executives have personally apologised to the passenger. We hope that the passenger will file 3/n— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) November 7, 2017
a criminal complaint.
This will enable us to take appropriate action. I will meet Shri Kalra to address his concerns. 4/n— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) November 7, 2017
Passengers and employees should know that the Ministry has multiple channels such as AirSewa and DGCA Sugam to handle such complaints n/n— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) November 7, 2017
The airline has been asked to submit a report on the incident to the aviation ministry by Wednesday, after which the government will see what action needs to be taken, Sinha said.
IndiGo, which is owned by InterGlobe Aviation
"Whatever may have been the provocation, our staff were completely out of line and didn't follow laid down procedures," Indigo President Aditya Ghosh said. "Even while the investigation was going on we immediately suspended the involved employees." Meanwhile, according to media reports, Montu Kalra, an IndiGO ground staff, who was said to have shot the video, was sacked after the incident. Former Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani, who now heads the Railway Board, waded into the row and hit out at IndiGo for the "disgusting" and "inhuman" act. He added, "The subsequent action of the airline in sacking the whistleblower is the icing on the cake of gross misconduct." Earlier this year a passenger, Dr David Dao, was dragged out of a United Airlines plane at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as the airline needed to free up seats for flying crew members, triggering an outrage, with passengers threatening to boycott the airline. A video showed Dao bleeding profusely from his mouth after three airport security officials grappled with him. In India, the aviation ministry unveiled rules for a no-fly list for unruly passengers that imposed a ban on flying from three months a lifetime. However, the rules do not deal with misconduct by airline staff.
On Monday, IndiGo faced a raft of criticism on social media.
"Take action against Indigo airlines for the unruly action against the passenger, I am not travelling this airline now," Twitter user Manish Dhanuka wrote.