New Delhi: An IndiGo passenger was restrained and manhandled by the airline's ground staff at the Delhi airport shortly after an argument last month. In a widely shared video, the passenger who had landed in the national capital, was physically prevented from boarding the coach by an airline staffer who was heard seconds earlier objecting to the passenger allegedly using abusive language.
The passenger, Rajeev Katiyal, travelling from Chennai, and the staffer get into a scuffle soon after; both sides are seen trying to punch the other in the video.
The incident took place on October 15. After the video shot on a mobile phone was put out today, IndiGo apologised for the incident and said that the staff involved has been fired. "Incident probed by designated committee. Took action against staff who was main culprit, by immediately terminating his employment," the airline said.
IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said he had called up the passenger too and apologised.
"My personal apologies... this does not reflect our culture," he said in a statement.
"Under the code of conduct violation, this incident was investigated and stern action was taken against the staff," the statement said.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said he has asked for a report from the civil aviation watchdog, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA.
"Violence of any sort is deplorable and should result in criminal action," the minister said.
According to reports, the incident had taken place when the passenger was waiting for the coach, which would take the passengers from the tarmac to the terminal.
Mr Katyal, visibly agitated, seems to be arguing over the late arrival of the coach, to which the ground staff ask him to refrain from using curses. On video, the passenger is telling them that they should focus on doing a better job rather than moving passengers from one spot to another.
As the passengers finally start boarding the coach, a ground staff restrains Mr Katiyal from boarding over the alleged cursing. Seething in rage, Mr Katiyal tries to attack a staff member screaming, "How dare you".
In the scuffle that follows, he is finally pinned down on the tarmac, the airline staff holding him by his neck on the ground, as the passenger fights back, swinging his arms wildly.
The two are then separated and held back by other staff members present there. It is not clear yet who shot the video.
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 chief Ashwani Lohani, who now heads the Railway Board, hit out at IndiGo for the "disgusting" and "inhuman" act. "The subsequent action of the airline in sacking the whistleblower is the icing on the cake of gross misconduct," he said.