AI air hostess defends Gaikwad, says Shiv Sena MP pulled up Sukumar for misdemeanour

New Delhi [India], Mar. 26 (ANI): Coming out in defence of Ravindra Gaikwad, who manhandled an Air India staff, an air hostess of the national airlines who was an eye witness to the incident on Sunday said that the Shiv Sena MP was only trying to pull up the duty manager for his misdemeanour, adding that he had no intentions of throwing him down the ladder.

The air hostess said Gaikwad was very courteous to the crew and there was no sign of his being violent onboard or no expectation that he would become violent later on.

"The only thing is that he was not willing to get off the plane even after being pursued by background and commercial staff. He wanted to speak to higher authority at the managerial level so that he can take up some issues with them which he was facing primarily, due to the boarding pass he had been issued, which was of J-class and he was given economy seat because the aircraft on that route is always economy. So, this discrepancy led to an argument with the ground staff and the MP concerned," the air hostess told ANI.

The air hostess further informed that on Gaikwad's demand to meet senior official, the duty manager, Sukumar onboard came to meet him.

"He (duty manager) was pretty much honest to his job but somewhere something went wrong in his communication and probably, the MP took also took it in wrong way. The conversation led to an argument which ultimately led to physical entanglement between the two men. Whereupon the MP took out his slipper and was about to hit him and tried to take law in his hand by taking him towards the ladder," she added.

The air hostess further said that she intervened because she wasn't scared of Gaikwad.

"That is the time when I barged in because I knew he wouldn't hit me because some time back he had called me sister and he was showing sympathy towards all women employees," she said.

"I was not scared of Mr. Gaikwad because he was particularly nice to me. My colleagues told me that I had held his hand and stopped him from hitting Sukumar further," she added.

The air hostess said that the Shiv Sena MP had no intentions of throwing the duty manager down the ladder.

"I don't think he was about to throw him (duty manager) off. He was just trying to pull that person up for his misdemeanour and put pressure so that senior officials come and hear out all his concerns," she added.

Air India and six private airlines banned the 56-year-old MP from flying as he refused to apologise for the incident that triggered nationwide outrage.

The MP from Osmanabad in Maharashtra had earlier downplayed reports suggesting that Air India is considering banning him from boarding its flights.

"I have the tickets, they can't blacklist me. I will board the Delhi-Pune Air India flight this evening. How can they not allow me?" he said.

"I will not apologise. It was not my fault, it was his fault. He should apologise. First ask him to apologise then we will see," Gaikwad told the media.

Sukumar, who was assaulted by Gaikwad, yesterday asserted that the elected representatives need to behave in a decent manner.

"I am not scared at all, either with Gaikwad or with the Shiv Sena. I have been serving public and have also faced many who get irritated on such issues. It's a common thing for me," he added.

Earlier, the Centre also took cognizance of the incident and assured a thorough probe into the matter. (ANI)