An Air India pilot accused of sexual harassment by a junior colleague has been barred from entering the premises of the airline without permission.
According to news agency PTI, Air India Regional Director (Northern Region) Abhay Pathak made this clear to the accused in a letter on Monday. "Pending inquiry during the period of suspension, you will not enter the premises of Air India Limited without written permission. Also, you will not leave the station (Delhi) without written permission from the undersigned," it read.
Last week, a woman pilot had accused the captain with the public sector airline of asking her several "inappropriate questions" during an informal interaction after work hours. "The instructor suggested that we have dinner at a city restaurant in Hyderabad after a training session on May 5. I agreed because I had completed a few flights with him, and he seemed decent. We went to a restaurant around 8 pm and that was where my ordeal started," the woman said in her complaint to Air India.
According to the complainant, the captain started by telling her how "depressed and unhappy" he was in his married life. "He also asked me how I coped with my husband living away, and whether I didn't need to have sex every day. He asked me if I masturbated. At some point, I told him I did not want to talk about all this and called a cab," she alleged.
The woman said she felt morally obliged to report the incident, which had left her feeling "extremely uncomfortable, scared and humiliated", so the accused doesn't repeat such behaviour with anybody else.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani later admitted that sexual harassment cases were not a rarity in the airline. "It is shameful that sexual harassment cases are often witnessed in Air India. We need to come down very very heavily on such offenders," he said in a text message to employees.
According to an Air India spokesperson, the airline management ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident as soon as the woman brought it to their notice.
(With inputs from PTI)