Victim claims she was made to interact with alleged offender by Air India crew
American financial services company Wells Fargo has sacked its India vice president Shankar Mishra who allegedly peed on an elderly woman on an Air India flight from New York to Delhi in November.
â€œThis individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them,â€ the company said in a statement released on Jan 6.
The company also said it holds its employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour and that it found these allegations deeply disturbing.
Read: Air India Urinegate: Furious desis share travel horrors (January 5, 2023)
After news of Mishra allegedly urinating on a woman co-passenger on board an Air India flight on Nov 26, was reported, the Delhi Police on Jan 5 issued a Look Out Circular (LOC) agains Mishra, who lives in Mumbai.
In the face of all round criticism over its handling of the incident, Air India CEO) Campbell Wilson on Friday described it as a â€œcomplicatedâ€ issue and asked the airlineâ€™s employees to promptly report all serious incidents inside an aircraft to authorities.
The airlineâ€™s director of operations, R S Sandhu, listed a set of instructions for pilots and cabin crew to check unruly behaviour following a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) advisory to all airlines.
The civil aviation regulator, too, issued an advisory to airlines, reiterating measures that can be taken to control unruly acts.
In his email to employees, Wilson said, â€œIf an incident on our aircraft involves improper behaviour of such magnitude, we must report it to authorities at the earliest opportunity, even if we genuinely believe that the matter has been settled between the parties involved. The same applies in the case of passengers deemed to meet the threshold of â€˜unruly,â€™â€ Wilson wrote.
â€œWe must also be clear on the standard of behaviour that is expected on our aircraft and take firm, decisive and timely action against those who do not comply,â€ he added.
â€œNon-action/omission by the airlines towards such untoward incidents has tarnished the image of air travel in different segments of society,â€ the DGCA stated in its advisory.
The two-page advisory lists responsibilities of pilots, cabin crew and cabin safety in-charge of an airline. It lists out a set of steps that crew must do to defuse a situation from escalating.
â€œApplying restraining devices should be used when all conciliatory approaches have been exhausted,â€ the DGCA advisory said.
Meanwhile, the elderly victim has claimed that she was made to interact with the alleged offender by airline crew despite her telling them she did not want to see him but should be arrested on his arrival at airport.
â€œIn my already distraught state, I was further disoriented by being made to confront and negotiate with the perpetrator of the horrific incident in close quarters. I told him that his actions were inexcusable but in the face of his pleading and begging in front of me, and my own shock and trauma, I found it difficult to insist on his arrest or to press charges against him (at that time),” the woman was quoted as saying by the Deccan Herald.
She said the inebriated passenger in Business Class walked to her seat, unzipped his pants, urinated on her and kept standing there until the person sitting next to the woman told him to go back. He “staggered back to his seat.â€
Read: Air India gets regulator notice over urination incidentÂ (January 5, 2023)
She said she immediately got up to notify the stewardess of what had happened. “My clothes, shoes and bag were soaked in urine. The bag contained my passport, travel documents and currency. The flight staff refused to touch them, sprayed my bag and shoes with disinfectant, took me to the bathroom and gave me a set of airline pyjamas and socks.
“I asked the staff for a change of seat but was told that no other seats were available. However, another business class passenger who had witnessed my plight and was advocating for me pointed out that there were seats available in first class,” she said.
She said the flight crew also told her that the pilot had “vetoed giving me a seat in first class.â€
She refused to sit on the soiled seat for 20 minutes when she was offered a small seat used by the crew where she sat for about two hours. She was then asked to return to her own seat and when she refused, she was offered the steward seat for the rest of the journey.
Her complaint was also an indictment of the way the crew handled the case saying they were “deeply unprofessional” and said they were “not proactive” in managing a “very sensitive and traumatic situation.â€
Once the alleged offender was sober and told the crew that he wanted to apologise, the crew told her about it. She refused to meet him, saying “I clearly stated that I did not want to interact or see his face…”
She also told the crew that the airline should reimburse her for her clothes and shoes but they refused and put the responsibility on the passenger. They also shared the woman’s number and he transferred money, which the woman returned, the Herald said.