IndiGo staff thrash flyer at IGI, airline fires whistleblower
New Delhi: In a shocker, IndiGo ground staff manhandled and dragged a passenger at Delhi airport on October 15 after a tiff. An airline employee who acted as a whistleblower, tried to intervene and shot a video of this violence was sacked by the airline.
This drama unfolded on October 15 when 6E 487 flew into Delhi from Chennai. After alighting from the Airbus A-320, flyer Rajiv Katiyal got into an argument with ground staff over some issue and he allegedly abused them. What sparked this argument could not be ascertained till the time of going to press.
Two to three IndiGo gro- und 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 the passenger, IndiGo sacked Kalra, whose wife is pregnant and who needs the job desperately for his growing family.
On Tuesday, Kalra’s video became public and was aired by Times Now — 22 days after the episode. Civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha spoke to IndiGo founder Rahul Bhatia and has 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, they 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, IGI airport DCP, confirmed receiving a PCR call regarding the tiff between the passenger and IndiGo employees on October 15. “Passenger Rajeev Katiyal, who had flown in from Chennai, was waiting for the coach bus. There was altercation between IndiGo staffer Jubi Thomas and the passenger due to a misunderstanding. The matter was amicably sorted out and a call was filed.”
IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh, in a statement, said: “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 of us is 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. An incident happened in the Delhi airport which is entirely the opposite of this and against what we stand for at IndiGo. 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…. .”
Railway Board chairman and former Air India chief Ashwani Lohani said in a post: “The shameful manhandling by two airline (IndiGo) employees in beating up a passenger on the tarmac is inhuman, disgusting to say the least and not at all acceptable in a civilized society. The subsequent action of the airline in sacking the whistleblower is the icing on the cake of gross misconduct. It is apparent that such an act is borne only out of the false sense of pride that the company has started displaying since their market share has started knocking on 50%.”
A video grab of IndiGo staff manhandling Rajiv Katiyal