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COVID-19 lockdown: Airline staff harassed by cops, Centre asks states to let them move for work

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

As various states went into lockdown from Tuesday, several airline and airport staff were allegedly harassed by police while commuting to their workplace despite telling the enforcing authorities that the aviation profession comes under "essential services".

Acting on the reports of harassment, the Aviation Ministry wrote to all state governments this afternoon, telling them that airline and airport staff are "supposed to maintain services and facilities" and need to commute to their workplace despite the coronavirus lockdown.

India has disallowed international flights for a period of one week from Sunday. Also, domestic flights will not not be allowed from this midnight until March 31. However, cargo flights will be allowed.

A senior official of an airline told PTI, "Many of our crew members were stopped by the police at checkpoints and were asked to go back. Policemen behaved rudely with airline staff when they told them that they come under 'essential services'".

An official of another airline narrated an incident of Tuesday morning in National Capital Region (NCR), wherein two cab drivers heading to pick up cabin crew members were stopped and allegedly made to stand up with posters that read, "I am society's enemy. I would roam outside without any work." Policemen clicked their pictures.

After various such incidents, the Aviation Ministry wrote a letter to the chief secretaries of all states.

The PTI has accessed a copy of the letter.

"As you are kindly aware, there have been restrictions on movement of people due to prevailing situation around COVID-19. However, a few essential goods and services are kept outside the purview of these restrictions," the Civil Aviation Ministry letter reads.

"In this regard, airlines/airports staff and crew are supposed to maintain specific minimum facilities/services and need to be travelling to their working locations. Ministry of Civil Aviation has received grievances from airports/airlines on the above matter," the letter states.

Some of the states have issued necessary directions to the enforcing officials to allow airlines and airport staff and crew, based on the Airport Entry Permit (AEP) issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the letter notes.

"Minimum number of functionaries of airports and airlines would also be moving during the suspension of domestic and international flight operations (i.e. till March 31, 2020) as basic facilities at airports and cargo/ emergency/permitted flight operations (including maintenance) have to continue," the letter told the states.

"I request you to please issue necessary directions to the enforcing authorities of your state to allow airport and airlines staff and crew members to maintain the required facilities during this period," the letter noted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 20:18 IST