Air India filed an FIR against Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad after he hit a 60-year-old Air India Duty Manager with a slipper because he was refused a business class seat. The MP went on to say unapologetically that he hit the staffer because the latter misbehaved with him. He justified his actions by saying that he had paid for a business class ticket but was not given and it is not the first time such a thing had happened.
"I hit the staffer 25 times, not just once," was Gaikwad's brazen response when Firstpost asked him about the incident. "I kept asking for a complaint book but they kept refusing. Finally, I told them I am an MP but they said 'Who MP, we only understand Narendra Modi,'" he said.
"I told them that I am a Shiv Sena MP and not from the BJP, but they refused to budge. Then I held his collar and started hitting him," Gaikwad told Firstpost. Ashok Gajapathi Raju,Civil Aviation Minister reacted to the incident saying that such a thing should not have happened in the first place.
No political party will encourage physical assault. It should never have happened: Ashok Gajapathi Raju,Civil Aviation Minister on R.Gaikwad pic.twitter.com/I78K7yUjB1
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 23, 2017
Meanwhile, Air India issued a statement saying they will be conducting a probe into the incident.
We have constituted a team to probe the whole incident: Air India on Shiv Sena MP beats AI staff member — ANI (@ANI_news) March 23, 2017
According to News18, Gaikwad added that he had complained to Air India several times, since no action had been taken, he lost his cool. The staffer tried to explain that since the business section was full, he will be accommodated in the economy class. According to ANI, the Air India staffer said that when Gaikwad's request was denied, he became abusive and started hitting him. "He humiliated me in front of the whole crew," said the staffer.
When I told him what he's asking isn't possible he(Shiv Sena MP R.Gaikwad)became abusive, used foul language:AI staff who was hit by Gaikwad — ANI (@ANI_news) March 23, 2017
R.Gaikwad hit me, used bad words & not only broke my specs but humiliated me in front of the whole crew: AI Staff who was hit by Gaikwad — ANI (@ANI_news) March 23, 2017
The MP was travelling from Pune to New Delhi when a row broke out over the seating arrangement. The incident happened when flight AI852 from Pune landed at New Delhi airport around 10.30 am on Thursday. According to the airline, Gaikwad was booked on an open ticket in business class with Air India which allows a passenger to take a flight on any date. But Gaikwad insisted on taking the 7:35 am AI 852 this morning from Pune to Delhi, which is an all-economy flight, sparking an argument between Air India staff and the politician. The MP boarded the flight but refused to alight from the aircraft when it landed at IGI airport here. This is when the 60-year-old duty manager, Shivkumar, approached the MP to try and placate him but was brutally manhandled, said Air India sources.Air India sent some officials to enquire the matter and learnt that he was forced to travel economy class though he held an open executive class ticket. When they requested him to get up and deboard, Gaikwad reportedly flared up and assaulted them with his slipper, the sources said. "The MP turned violent, broke the duty manager's spectacles, tore his shirt, hit him with slippers 16-17 times," said Air India sources. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena spokesperson M Kayande has come out in support of Gaikwad. Air India sent some officials to enquire the matter and learnt that he was forced to travel economy class though he held an open executive class ticket. When they requested him to get up and deboard, Gaikwad reportedly flared up and assaulted them with his slipper, the sources said. "The MP turned violent, broke the duty manager's spectacles, tore his shirt, hit him with slippers 16-17 times," said Air India sources. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena member M Kayande has come out in support of Gaikwad. Arvind Sawant, a Sena leader and MP from south Mumbai, defended Gaikwad and described the assault as a "reaction to rude and insulting behaviour of Air India officials". "Gaikwad is a professor by profession and he is known for his peaceful demeanour. Although Gaikwad was quite polite during the argument, the Air India officers were rude," he said. "They insulted him and used abusive language. One cannot expect us to keep quiet in such a situation. We at Shiv Sena do not tolerate injustice. We do not see anything wrong in Gaikwad's reaction," Sawant said.
The sources said the flight was operated by an old ATR aircraft which has only economy class configuration. So he could not have been allotted a business class seat. Gaikwad is a member of Shiv Sena representing the Usmanabad constituency of Maharashtra. He is a first-time MP and two-time MLA from Umerga in Usmanabad. Meanwhile, here are some of the reactions that poured in on Twitter.
In any other country @ShivSena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, whose salary & perks we pay, would be jailed for assault. Hope AI takes this forward https://t.co/Kh9fsvvp85 — Minhaz Merchant (@MinhazMerchant) March 23, 2017
Does the Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad belong to SS or Vanara Sena? Even, Vanara are better behaved. — VSA (@vsayachit) March 23, 2017
Air India official beaten with slippers by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad , India urgently needs to have "no-fly list" of unruly travellers — Jayesh (@jayeshdewana12) March 23, 2017
The 57-year-old Lok Sabha member from the Osmanabad constituency in the Marathwada region was in the eye of a row in 2014 for allegedly trying to force-feed a Muslim caterer during the fasting month of Ramzan over the quality of chapatis served at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi. He has various criminal charges against him which include voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servants from duty, criminal intimidation and rioting among others.
He was twice elected to the Maharashtra Assembly before going to the Lok Sabha in 2014. Gaikwad, whose violent streak was on display on Thursday, has been a member of the Joint Committee on Security in Parliament House Complex since April 2015. He holds M Com and B Ed degrees and is known as 'Ravi Sir' in his constituency.
With inputs from the Agencies
Updated Date: Mar 24, 2017 08:14 AM