NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to play referee in the IndiGo assault case by ordering an independent inquiry into the October 15 incident where a passenger was assaulted at Indira Gandhi International Airport by two ground staff of the airline.
Civil aviation minister Gajapathi Raju did not say much on Wednesday on whether any action would be taken against the airline but stressed that such “barbarous incidents should not happen”.
While asking aviation safety regulator directorate general of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to probe the incident, Raju said, “In a civilised society, fisticuffs have to be condemned.”
The October 15 incident surfaced only on Tuesday after a video showed Rajiv Katyal being manhandled by the airline’s staff after a verbal altercation. The context of the altercation was not clear from the 81-second video clip.
Later in the day, IndiGo submitted a detailed seven-page report to the ministry justifying its act of sacking the apparent whistleblower Montu Kalra — who shot the video — instead of the two ground staff — Juby Thomas and Sahiv Sharma — who are seen attacking Katiyal.
IndiGo termed Kalra the main culprit in the incident and claimed he was the one who instigated the incident. According to IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh, Kalra was the one who instructed his two colleagues — who are junior to him — to prevent Katiyal from boarding the bus and holding him back at the ramp area.
The budget carrier also claimed that it was 53-year-old Katiyal who first became abusive and hit Thomas. IndiGo said it was Katiyal who “charged towards Juby Thomas, grabbed his face and pulled him”.
Notably, the only employee who was sacked by the airline after the incident came to light is Kalra while Thomas and Sharma have been issued warning letters.
The airlines, in its defence, claimed, “The reality is that my colleagues were only trying to act in the best interest of the safety of Katyal and trying to prevent a potential serious mishap.”
Meanwhile, Delhi police said the matter had been amicably resolved between the airline and Rajiv Katiyal on October 15 itself.
In the video, Katiyal is first seen being stopped from entering a coach, and then being pulled back by a ground staff. Another airline employee is seen restraining Katiyal.
The two airline staff are also seen pushing Kaityal. When he fights back, he is pinned to the ground and one staff is seen grabbing Katiyal by the throat.