Aviation minister seeks report after IndiGo staff manhandle passenger

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today summoned all stakeholders after a video emerged of IndiGo staff apparently assaulting and dragging a passenger on the ground after an altercation.

On Tuesday, Raju had sought a report on the incident from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

"We are seeking a report from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Violence of any sort is deplorable and should result in criminal action," Raju said.

The video of the incident, which took place on 15 October at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, shows the a passenger and a staffer at fisticuffs and abusing each other. It also shows the airline staff holding the passenger down by the throat.

The video has only now surfaced on social media. According to reports, an airline employee who tried to intervene and then shot the video of the incident has been sacked by the airline.

When IndiGo's Flight 6E 487 landed in Delhi from Chennai on 15 October, after alighting from the Airbus A-320, passenger Rajiv Katiyal got into an argument with some ground staff – the issue in dispute is not clear - and he allegedly abused them.

Two to three IndiGo ground staffers stopped Katyal from boarding the bus, which was taking passengers to the terminal. They then manhandled him and dragged him on the tarmac for over a minute. An IndiGo employee, Montu Kalra, who was at the site tried to intervene and shot a video of his colleagues manhandling the passenger.

Instead of acting against the employees who thrashed Katiyal, IndiGo sacked Kalra, whose wife is pregnant and who needs the job for his growing family.

On Tuesday when Kalra's video became public and was aired by Times Now, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha spoke to IndiGo founder Rahul Bhatia and sought a detailed report on this issue.

He said once the passenger lodges a criminal complaint (FIR) against the IndiGo employees who beat him up, the employees will lose their security clearance for airport passes and not be able to go there for their job.

Effectively, the guilty employees of IndiGo will not be able to work in the aviation industry, Sinha said.

Sanjay Bhatia, deputy commissioner of Police at IGI Airport, confirmed receiving a call regarding the tiff. "Passenger Rajeev Katiyal, who had flown in from Chennai, was waiting for coach bus. There was altercation between IndiGo staffer Jubi Thomas and the passenger due to a misunderstanding. The matter was amicably sorted out,'' he said."

IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said in a statement, "I acknowledge the unpleasant experience our passenger went through, while engaging with our staff at Delhi airport. My personal apologies as this does not reflect our culture. I had personally spoken to the passenger and asked for an apology. At IndiGo, dignity of our passengers and staff is of utmost importance. Any act that compromises the dignity of either is of a serious concern to us. Under the code of conduct violation, this incident was investigated and stern action was taken against the staff. Once again my personal and sincere apologies to the affected passenger."

The airline later added to this statement, saying, "Treating our customers with respect is core to what we do. Every day we take tens of thousands of happy customers to where they need to get to ... the video of this incident came to our attention and we took action. Even while the investigation was going on we immediately suspended the involved employees. I personally spoke to the customer and apologised to him the very same day. Whatever may have been the provocation, our staff were completely out of line and didn't follow laid down procedures.''