AI mid-air scuffle: Assault case against 2

Last Updated: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 08:46

New Delhi: A case of molestation and assault
during an alleged mid-air scuffle was on Sunday registered by the
Delhi police against the two pilots of an Air India flight on
a complaint of an airhostess and the airline also probed the
incident.

Satyender Garg, Joint Commissioner (Operations), Delhi
Police said a medical examination of the unidentified air
hostess has confirmed injuries on her body.

The pilot Ranbeer Arora, co-pilot Aditya Chopra , the
airhostess and a flight purser Amit Khanna were derostered
yesterday after the airline management took a serious view of
the alleged scuffle between the cockpit crew and some cabin
crew members. 106 passengers and a seven-member crew were on
board the Airbus A-320 on an international flight.

An Air India spokesperson called the incident "a clear
case of indiscipline" and said the airline would take
stringent action on the basis of the inquiry report against
whomsoever found guilty. Chopra and Khanna also allegedly
received minor injuries during the scuffle.

The scuffle between the two pilots and cabin crew members
of IC 884 (Sharjah-Lucknow-Delhi) was reported yesterday
shortly after the flight landed at Lucknow at 0600 HRS. The
incident occured around 0430 HRS when the aircraft was
cruising over Pakistan territory.

A three-member panel set up by Air India here probed the
incident and heard the parties involved following claims and
counter-claims. Details of the probe were not available.

Garg said as per the airhostess`s complaint cases were
registered against the pilots under IPC Sections 323
(voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or use of criminal
force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509
(word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a
woman) and 34 (common intention).

"Basically her (the air hostess) complaint had said that
she had been abused, manhandled, assaulted in an undignified
way. So the content of the complaint made out a case under
these sections," Garg said. He also said the police would also
take the version of the accused before initiating further
proceedings in the case.

The airhostess said she has given a statement to the
management but declined to answer newsmen`s questions.

Arora said there was never any risk to passengers during
the flight. "Inquiry is on. We will get the details soon," he
said.

Khanna claimed he did not hit anyone. "I must speak to
the Air India management first. Since we are under great
shock, I have not been able to talk to them."

The scuffle apparently was a sequel to verbal exchanges
between the two sides during the pre-flight briefing session
ahead of take-off from Sharjah, airline sources said.

An airline spokesman claimed that at no point of time
did any of the two pilots come out of the cockpit.

Denying some reports in this regard, he said, "There was
never an instance of no pilot being present in the cockpit.
The Commander of the flight was in his seat throughout the
flight and never left it. Thus, there was no question of
flight safety being compromised. This could also be
corroborated by the recordings of the Cockpit Voice Recorder
(or the black box)."

In her complaint, the air hostess claimed that she went
inside the cockpit to greet the pilots where she was asked by
them to sit there.

When she refused, the air hostess claimed that the
pilots made some lewd remarks. She then came out of the
cockpit and later returned there with a flight attendant when
she was allegedly manhandled.

In a press release, Air India said its management has
taken a serious view of the incident has constituted an
inquiry committee to establish the guilt of employees
involved. The committee met for eight hours yesterday and the
whole day today.

Both the pilots and the two cabin crew involved were
given an opportunity to give their account of the happening on
board the flight, it said. The committee also examined the
engineer who was on the flight.

The committee is expected to submit its report to the
management tomorrow.

Air India would like to reassure its travelling public
that the airline would not allow any section of the employees
to take any action that compromises safety, the release said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 08:46

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