A day after Air India (AI) lifted its ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) followed suit on Saturday, April 8. However, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha took to Twitter to remind his followers that the police case against Gaikwad remained, and that the ministry was "strengthening rules" to prevent such incidents.
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Gaikwad was accused of hitting an AI official on March 23 after he was reportedly not bumped up to business class in the flight. He latter bragged on camera that he had hit the AI official 25 times with his footwear. Subsequently, AI banned him from all its flights — a move replicated by all carriers under the FIA. Gaikwad reportedly tried to book several flight tickets after that, but each time they were cancelled.
In the end, he apologised in the Lok Sabha, leading the Civil Aviation Ministry to direct AI to lift the ban on him on Friday. The FIA followed suit a day later, but "under the assurance that our assets and colleagues shall be accorded the respect that they deserve for the hard work that they put in every day," it said in a statement.
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Not out of the woods yet
However, Gaikwad's troubles may not be over. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in a series of tweets that although the ministry had advised AI to lift the ban on him, "police investigations regarding Gaikwad's conduct during the March 23 incident are underway and the law will take its own course."
He tweeted out this statement and its variation to multiple people who tried to point out to him that Gaikwad was going unpunished for his deeds. Gaikwad, it may be noted, has been booked under sections 308 (culpable homicide or attempt to murder) and 355 (assault) for the attack on the AI official.
Sinha also said: "MoCA [Ministry of Civil Aviation] is strengthening rules so that a national no-fly list can be implemented, such incidents can be prevented, and safety improved. Air travellers should note that safety and security for passengers and crew is our paramount priority. Unruly or disruptive behaviour will result in severe consequences. This includes police action for a specific incident as well as being placed on a no-fly list."