IndiGo passenger assault: My colleagues were trying to act in the best interest of Mr. Katyal, says President of InterGlobe Aviation
After the video of an IndiGo passenger being assaulted by airline personnel was published on social media the company has issued a background report to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
- A video of a passenger being allegedly assaulted by IndiGo employees was released on social media.
- Federal government and DGCA ordered a probe into the incident.
- IndiGo said it 'immediately suspended' all employees involved in the incident.
A video of an IndiGo passenger being allegedly assaulted by the airline’s ground staff at the Delhi Indira Gandhi International airport went viral late Tuesday night on social media.
InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, the parent company of IndiGo, on Wednesday submitted a background report of the investigation it had carried out of the incident to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The passenger in the video has been identified as Rajeev Katyal and the incident had occurred on October 15.
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“At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for this regrettable incident, we have also taken action,” Aditya Ghosh, President of InterGlobe Aviation said in a letter addressed to Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Minister of Civil Aviation.
“The unfortunate incident should have been avoided by improving our communication with the customer. The reality is that my colleagues were only trying to act in the best interest of the safety of Mr. Katyal, and trying to prevent a potential serious mishap,” he added.
In the seven page letter submitted to the aviation ministry, the company has entailed a full description of the events that took place that day along with screenshots from the video.
The video was taken by Montu Kalra, a former cargo employee of IndiGo, who was later terminated from the company on account of his behaviour.
“It is important for us to point out that Montu Kalra was not terminated because he either shot a video or as he is now claiming, brought this to our attention. In fact, the reality is, that it is the other employee, Juby Thomas, is the one who raised this issue with his supervisor as per IndiGo's standard operating procedure and brought this incident to the attention of the company,” Ghosh added.
Background of the incident
In the background of the incident the airline explained that when an aircraft is parked at the parking bay after landing, it gives out a 'very high- level of ambient noise from the auxiliary power unit, the air-conditioning packs of the aircraft, the motorized baggage conveyor belt, passenger buses and from other aircraft in the vicinity.'
"After passengers have deplaned, it is a laid down procedure that, in the interest of safety, passengers be prevented from approaching any of the live ground equipment being used. When our staff, Juby Thomas, saw Mr. Katyal inadvertently moving towards the catering high-lift (which was attached to the aircraft), Juby Thomas started waving frantically from a distance in order to ask Mr. Katyal to move away with the sole intention of preventing any accident. When Mr. Katyal could not comprehend what Juby Thomas was trying to convey, Juby Thomas started shouting in a much louder voice to overcome the very loud ambient noise around the aircraft,” the letter read.
IndiGo alleged that the employee accused of committing assault was first abused by the passenger and was told to do his job.
“In hindsight, Juby Thomas should have probably ignored the remark. However, Juby Thomas turned around and asked Mr. Katyal why he is abusing him. To this Mr. Katyal responded by asking Juby Thomas to go do his own work,” the letter read.
The airline used six screen shots from the video to explain the actions of its employees.
From the first scene IndiGo stated that Montu Karla was shouting instructions to the junior employees to prevent Mr. Katyal from boarding the bus to go to the plane. While Sahiv Sharma signals the bus to leave, Juby Thomas requests Mr. Katyal not to board the bus.
“In this screenshot it is quite obvious that Mr. Katyal is arguing with Juby Thomas, forcing himself to enter the bus even when he is being requested not to,” Ghosh said.
In the third screenshot in the report, Ghosh said, “This screenshot is critical. While Juby Thomas is keeping a safe distance, the moment the doors of the bus close, Mr. Katyal reaches out and grabs Juby Thomas’ face.”
The airline further alleged that Thomas continued to be ‘assaulted’ by the passenger even while he did not retaliate.
The company has also issued a warning letter to Sahiv Sharma who is seen smiling in the video while separating the brawl between Katyal from Thomas.
The next two screenshots of the video also alleged that Katyal grabbed the airline employee’s face. “Even after Mr. Katyal was separated from Juby Thomas, he once again charges towards Juby Thomas and grabbed Juby Thomas’ face and tries to pull Juby Thomas towards himself and in the process both of them lose balance and fall to the ground.”
“When they fall, you can see that both Juby Thomas’ hands are on the tarmac and the passenger is grabbing Juby Thomas by the neck and hitting him. At this stage, Juby Thomas in self-defense tries to distance himseld from Mr. Katyal by extending his hand and placing it on Mr. Katyal's collar bone. Juby Thomas is actually trying to move away while he continues to get assaulted. Juby Thomas never got the opportunity to move away from the situation since Mr. Katyal was holding him by the collar," the letter said.
"It is pertinent to note that whatever the provocation be, Juby Thomas was out of line and acted in a manner that is not consisten with what we stand for at IndiGo, even if it had been for self-defense. Therefore Juby Thomas was issued a final warning letter," Ghosh added.
Share price of InterGlobe Aviation closed 2.29% or 27 points lower to Rs 1181.75 per share on BSE Sensex.