Airlines ground Sena MP, cops book him for assault

After posturing, Gaikwad takes train to Mumbai

Airlines ground Sena MP, cops book him for assault

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Friday became the first lawmaker in the country to be barred from flying by around half a dozen airlines after his outrageous assault on an Air India manager.

The MP has also been booked by the police, who have charged him with attempt to commit culpable homicide.

In more ignominy for the first-time MP from Osmanabad, Air India and IndiGo cancelled his ticket to Pune in protest, upsetting his plans to return to his hometown for the weekend.

All this while, the chorus for a no-fly list to debar unruly passengers grew louder.

Gaikwad was to leave for Pune by air around 4 pm. But he is now understood to have taken a Mumbai-bound train in the evening after the airlines cancelled his ticket. IndiGo refunded his money even as he insisted that he will board their flight.

He is likely to meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with his side of the story.

Gaikwad, whose profession is described as “professor” and “agriculturist” on the Lok Sabha website, continued to be unapologetic even as his colleagues in Parliament found no reason to support him.

There seemed to be unanimity among them that such acts by “one or two” politicians were defaming the institution of Parliament and lowering the prestige of MPs.

If public condemnation was not enough, more trouble brewed for the 57-year-old MP with Delhi Police registering a case for attempting to commit culpable homicide (section 308 of Indian Penal Code) and assault or using criminal force with intent to dishonour a person (section 355) against him.

The crime branch of Delhi Police will investigate the case.

In a counter move, Gaikwad filed a complaint claiming misbehaviour by Air India officials. The police said the complaint has been sent for legal examination. Gaikwad waded into a controversy on Thursday after he repeatedly hit 60-year-old Air India manager R Sukumar (correct name) with sandals, tore his shirt, broke his glasses and tried to throw him out of an aircraft at Delhi airport.

His complaint was that he could not travel business class – on an all-economy flight.

But Gaikwad said, “I will not apologise, why should I? First ask him to apologise, then we will see. A 60-year-old man should also know how to behave.”

Air India employees were angry over the incident and the management moved swiftly to rally other airlines together for strict action against the MP. Air India and Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), whose members are Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, announced that they will not fly Gaikwad on their planes.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association, a body of Air India pilots, wrote to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, saying they will be forced not to operate any flight with Gaikwad on board if he does not apologise unconditionally. Two other airlines, Vistara and AirAsia India, also supported the decision while all the operators backed the demand for immediately taking measures to have a no-fly list, ensuring that unruly passengers are denied seats on planes.

However, there were doubts over the airlines’ move to deny a ticket to Gaikwad. Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary said there was no law that barred anyone from travelling anywhere or being denied a ticket. “If someone has committed a crime, he can be punished but denying a ticket is seriously wrong,” Chaudhary was quoted by ANI as saying.

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