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Air India revokes Ravindra Gaikwad ban, despite Shiv Sena MP's refusal to apologise

Ravindra Gaikwad has been allowed to fly again, after Air India lifted the ban it imposed on the Shiv Sena MP, for assaulting a 60-year-old staffer last month.

The national airline carrier had demanded that the party and the MP should apologise for the act, and on Thursday, had said the ban would stay in place though Gaikwad "expressed regret". But one day later, it seems to have softened its stand, perhaps following threats issued by Shiv Sena, which threatened to boycott the NDA dinner to be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

Declared persona non grata by all major domestic airlines, Gaikwad on Thursday tendered an apology to the Lok Sabha for the incident and also voiced "regret" over the "unfortunate incident", while a combative Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt AI operations in Mumbai and Pune forced repeated adjournment of the House over the issue. It also declared it would not attend the 10 April meeting of the NDA if the ban was not lifted.

Ravindra Gaikwad. CNN-News18

Ravindra Gaikwad. CNN-News18

Gaikwad, who attended the proceedings for the first time since the incident when he assaulted an Air India employee and boastfully claimed on national TV about having hit him with slippers 25 times, played a victim on Thursday, insisting he had only retaliated against provocation.

As the ruling NDA ally made an all-out attempt to get the ban lifted, a string of meetings followed to break the impasse, with first signs of a possible resolution emerging when Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the House that discussions will be held with the stakeholders to find an "amicable solution" at the earliest.

On Thursday evening, Gaikwad wrote a letter to Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapthi Raju voicing "regret" over the "unfortunate incident".

"I write to convey my regrets for the unfortunate incident that took place on 23 March, 2017 in the Air India Flight No. AI-852 seat No. 1F," Gaikwad said.

"It could have been no one's intention to have let the situation aggravate to the level that it eventually did. While the on-going investigation will bring out the factual sequence of events to fix responsibility, this incident may kindly not be seen as a reason for likely recurrence of such an event in future also," he said in the letter.

The letter, according to official sources, followed a meeting in Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's chamber in Parliament where Shiv Sena MPs were told that if Gaikwad issued a statement committing that he would not engage in any such incident in future, the government could intervene and have the ban revoked.

"As the restriction on flying is affecting the effective discharge of my duties and responsibilities, I would request you to lift this restriction and let the investigation eventually determine the circumstances which led to the incident," Gaikwad said.

With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Apr 07, 2017 15:25 PM

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