Press Trust of India

Peeing episode: Accused arrested, Air India CEO apologises for incident

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

New Delhi/Bengaluru: The man who allegedly urinated on a woman co-passenger on an Air India flight was arrested Saturday while the carrier’s CEO issued an apology over handling of the incident and said four cabin crew and a pilot have been de-rostered and the policy of serving alcohol on flights is being reviewed.

Delhi Police arrested Shankar Mishra, 34, from Bengaluru after he was traced to that city through technical surveillance, officials said.

A Delhi court later sent Mishra to judicial remand for 14 days while rejecting a plea by police for his custody.

Police had sought his three-day remand, saying he was required to be identified by three cabin crew members and two captains and other co-passengers were also to be examined.

Passing the order, Metropolitan Magistrate Anamika noted that Mishra’s custody was not required by police for recording statements of other witnesses, including cabin crew and co-passengers.

“Just because there’s public pressure, don’t do this. Go by the law,” the judge said.

Delhi Police had registered an FIR against him on January 4 on a complaint given by the woman to Air India.

Mishra, who was working with US multinational firm Wells Fargo in India, was sacked on Friday. He allegedly urinated on the woman, a senior citizen, in an inebriated condition in the business class of the Air India flight from New York to Delhi on November 26 last year.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Airport) Ravi Kumar Singh said, “Accused Shankar Mishra in IGIA case has been arrested from Bengaluru by a Delhi Police team. He has been brought to Delhi and further investigation into the case is in progress.”

Tata Group-owned Air India CEO Campbell Wilson issued a statement saying the airline could have handled the issue better and promised a robust reporting system of unruly behaviour and a system of reporting such incidents.

“Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences,” he said.

“Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action.”

With questions being raised about the airline not immediately reporting the unruly passenger to law enforcement authorities, he advised staff to report all incidents irrespective of a settlement being reached.

“In the instance of the incident onboard AI-102 operating between New York and Delhi on November 26, 2022, four cabin crew and one pilot have been issued show cause notices and de-rostered pending investigation,” he said, adding internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff are ongoing.

The airline is investigating aspects including the service of alcohol on flight, incident handling, complaint registration on board and grievance handling.

As a responsible airline brand, Air India has commenced a comprehensive education programme to strengthen crews’ awareness of and compliance with policies on the handling of incidents and unruly passengers with a view to materially strengthen and improve how such incidents would be addressed in future.

The airline is reviewing “policy on service of alcohol in flight,” he said without elaborating.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday stated that Air India at first glance appeared to have not complied with provisions related to the handling of an unruly passenger onboard.

The DGCA notices came after the airline told the regulator that its staff had not complained about the Mumbai businessman to law enforcement, as the aggrieved lady had “rescinded” an initial request for action after the two “appeared” to have sorted out the issue.

A Bengaluru police official said Mishra was staying at his sister’s house in Sanjay Nagar, Bengaluru. He had switched off his mobile phone on January 3 and his last location was traced to Bengaluru.

The case against him was filed under sections 294 (obscene act in public place), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as under Aircraft Rules.

According to the FIR, the accused begged the woman not to lodge a complaint against him, saying he was a family man and did not wish his wife and child to be affected by the incident.

Summons were issued to the staff for Friday but they did not appear before the police, they said. A lookout circular was issued against Mishra to prevent him from fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, Sugata Bhattacharjee, a US-based doctor of audiology who was seated next to the accused in business class on the flight to Delhi, in a handwritten complaint to the airlines stated that the distressed passenger was made to go back to her soiled seat despite four seats in the first class being vacant.

In the complaint, Bhattacharjee said he was seated on 8A (window) in the first row of business class, next to the accused Shankar Misra who was in seat 8C.

Shortly after lunch was served and the lights were switched off on board AI 102 of November 26 (JFK New York to IGIA, New Delhi), the inebriated male passenger seated in business class seat walked to the elderly woman’s seat (9A), unzipped his pants and urinated on her.

The lavatory was four rows behind his seat.

Bhattacharjee said he was woken up midflight when Shankar fell on him. “I initially thought he lost his balance due to a rough flight. However, as I was going to the restroom, I saw my two fellow passengers of 9A and 9C in distress,” he said, adding the lady of 9A came to the gallery area, she was all wet.

All this while, two air hostesses helped clean her up, change her clothes and sanitized her belongings and seat.

Bhattacherjee reportedly asked the crew for a complaint book to note down his protest against the handling of the situation but was provided a piece of paper. He wrote his complaint on that paper.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *