India’s main trade body for airlines has placed a member of the Hindu right-wing Shiv Sena party on a “no-fly” list after he admitted to slapping an Air India steward 25 times for allocating him an economy seat.
Ravindra Gaikwad was banned by the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) after he attacked the steward – resulting the man’s glasses being broken – because he was livid for being given a business class seat. That despite the fact that Gaikwad’s office had been notified by Air India that the flight from Pune to Delhi was an all-economy class flight.
The fact that he was seated at the front of the plane was not enough.
According to reports, when Duty Manager Sukumar Raman arrived to explain matters to Gaikwad, the politician turned violent.
“God save our country if this is the culture of our politicans and MPs,” the Air India employee wrote in his complaint.
Mr Raman continued: “He became abusive and used foul language. When I spoke to him in English, he told me to speak to him in Hindi and when I started speaking in Hindi, he used foul language and bad words against me and started beating me. He took out his slipper and started hitting me. The staff who were present tried to save me. He also tried to throw me out from the step-ladder but the staff prevented him from doing so.
Air India has filed two police complaints against the MP’s. Gaikwad however, defended his actions.
“I said (to Rama) that I am an MP, don’t raise your voice. He said ‘what MP? I will talk to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’, so I hit him. I am not here to take abuse.”
A statement by the FIA which banned Gaikwad, demanded “strict action be taken against the Member of Parliament by law enforcement agencies…We believe that an assault on any one of our employees is an assault on all of us and on ordinary law abiding citizens of our country who work hard to earn a living.”
Social media users as well as politicians from across India have condemned Gaikwad’s actions.