BHUBANESWAR: Virtually thumbing the nose at the police and airport authorities, the hooliganism of parking attendants at Biju Patnaik Airport has gone through the roof. It has not been a month since a lady passenger was misbehaved and manhandled by the staff, the roguish behaviour was on brazen display yet again on Friday when a former Air Force officer and his family came under their attack.
The 62-year-old retired Group Captain IAF BS Dash, his daughter Madhu and son-in-law Piyush were not only abused but also assaulted by the parking staff for refusing to give in to illegal parking fee demand. The incident occurred at around 11 am when Dash and Madhu received Piyush at the airport and left towards the exit. A couple of parking staff blocked their way and demanded `40 towards parking charges.
Dash said he had spent just about three minutes at the airport, much less than the stipulated five-minute time limit fixed for payment of parking fee. There was an artificial congestion created at the exit, a ploy mastered by the parking contractor to fleece people, said Dash. Since he did not relent and protested, two parking staff kicked his vehicle and forced them to step out. While Dash was assaulted, Piyush was also attacked when he tried to rescue his father-in-law.
They did not even spare Madhu, who was subjected to vile abuse. The parking staff even dared Dash to lodge a complaint with the Airport Director and Airfield police. Dash has filed an FIR at Airfield police station. One parking attendant Jeetu Reddy has been arrested.
Director of Biju Patnaik Airport Sharad Kumar said the parking contractor was slapped a showcause notice over the February 1 incident when a lady passenger had to undergo nightmarish experience at the hands of same hoodlums. “While police say he is untraceable, we have imposed a penalty of `18,000 on the firm,” Kumar said.
However, second such incident within four weeks has raised serious questions on the attitude of airport authorities towards passengers. Instead of opening the second exit line to facilitate smooth departure of passengers, the authorities sat pretty, passing the buck on to police.
“Other than a proclaimed fine, the airport authorities have not taken any step against the parking contractor that could act as deterrent to such high-handedness. This has further emboldened the parking staff,” a passenger said.
That the airport authorities are hand-in-glove with the parking contractor is evident from the brazen highhandedness of the parking attendants, two of whom were arrested for the February 1 incident and are now out on bail. The parking contract was awarded to a Bangalore-based agency which, in turn, has given it on sub-lease to an ex-Army personnel.