Mid-air scare: Stewardess assaulted, passengers terrified

New Delhi: A 42-second long cell-phone video captured the panic on board for around 200 passengers who flew into Delhi from Mumbai on Wednesday evening.

The video shows a group of passengers surrounding a man who had slapped a stewardess.  

About 30 minutes into the flight, a passenger named Mursalin Sheikh, who is 41, started shouting at other passengers. He stood on his chair and looked at passengers while chewing on his cell phone, said Mohini Ganju, a passenger. "There was anger in his eyes...in between there were tears in his eyes," she said.

When a stewardess asked him to sit down - a request she repeated a dozen times- he slapped her.  Then he tried to run to the front of the plane towards the cockpit, but was blocked by a food trolley in the aisle, and soon after, by a group of male passengers.

"All the while he was shouting to the stewardess, 'Do you want to go down with me?' and trying to make a call from his mobile, which created a scary moment as we thought that his mobile was some kind of detonator," said another passenger.

The pilot had alerted the Delhi airport to the commotion on board, and he was allowed a priority landing. Security guards from the CISF circled the plane when it landed. Mr Sheikh was arrested. His family says he has mental health issues. "We don't know how he got the money for the ticket to come to Delhi, we did not know he was taking a flight ," said his cousin Fahim, who said Mr Sheikh is prone to fits of rage.

Passengers say that adding to their concerns was the absence of any male crew members on the plane.

INDIGO STATEMENT ON THE INCIDENT

'IndiGo flight 6E 196 enroute from Mumbai to Delhi had an unruly passenger on board. Mid-air, this unruly passenger started screaming and shouting and also physically assaulted an IndiGo crew member on board. Keeping in mind, the safety of other passengers and crew: The pilot-in-command immediately informed the airport authorities and further requested for the requirement of security personnel on arrival of the flight. The passenger also got violent with other passengers on the flight, and further tried to access the forward of the aircraft. IndiGo crew made appropriate announcements and deployed security measures to block access to the front of the aircraft as well as the front galley was secured. Further, with the help of the other passengers this passenger was secured till the plane landed back at the Delhi airport. The passenger was finally deplaned at 1813 hours and was handed over to the CISF.

IndiGo is in the process of lodging a FIR with the local police authorities and IndiGo shall assist the security agencies in their investigation.

Customer satisfaction is core to our business. However, the safety and security of our passengers as well as colleagues is of primary concern. Therefore, an untoward conduct of this nature is of serious concern to us, and as a responsible corporate citizen we will take all necessary action to address this violation.'