Air India has said on Wednesday that it has taken the incident of a Chhattisgarh Congress lawmaker allegedly misbehaving with female staff at the Raipur airport "seriously" and ordered a detailed probe.
The state-run airline said it would initiate further action once the findings of the probe are known. The ruling party legislator, Vinod Chandrakar, denied the charges of misconduct and has claimed that he was in fact the victim in the entire episode.
Chandrakar, the Congress MLA from Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh, allegedly started "shouting" and "abusing" the female staffer, working with AI's regional subsidiary Alliance Air, at the Raipur airport on September 7 evening after he arrived late for a flight and subsequently missed it.
"The matter has come to our notice. The Air India management has taken it seriously and ordered a detailed enquiry. After the enquiry report (is received), further action will be taken up," AI spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said in a statement.
Chandrakar was scheduled to travel to Ranchi from Raipur by Alliance Air flight 91-728, but was denied boarding by the female staffer as he arrived late at the airport, said a source.
After the departure of the flight, the passenger (the MLA) came in the check-in area and started shouting at the top of his voice. He used abusive language and hurled abuses on the female staff in public. He started saying he 'is a Congress MLA', which the female staff was not aware until then, the source has said.
"The MLA spoke to the airport manager from her mobile and even refused to give it back to her," alleged the source.
"The female staff was later escorted/helped by the CISF and another staff through the back gate and she walked about 2 kilometres in the night," the source added.
However, the legislator vehemently denied the allegations and challenged the national carrier to prove them. He instead claimed that he was the one affected by the incident and that it was wrongly presented.
"The Air India staff misbehaved with me and now they trying to save their skin by making me an accused," Chandrakar told PTI over the phone.
Narrating the sequence of events, the lawmaker said he was at the receiving end in the matter and threatened to file a defamation suit against the government airline. The Congress legislator also asserted his confidence and went on to say that the staff could check the CCTV footage of the whole incident. Apparently, Vinod Chandrakar was present with four others.
"I was with my four friends and I reached the airport on time. At 6 pm, I reached security checking counter. My baggage was checked twice. "Due to security checking of my baggage, I reached the counter No. 3 where the ticket was scanned for the last time at 6:07 pm," he said.
"Meanwhile, one of my friends was in contact with the Air India staff (the female) requesting her that our baggage was being checked twice and she should wait for some minutes as there was time (for take-off), he added.
Chandrakar maintained that he and his friends were not allowed to board. The legislator also claimed that he even requested for alternative options or refund. However, the staff resorted to communicating with the superior.
"Then, I called CMD of Air India Ashwani Lohani who asked me to send a complaint which I sent on WhatsApp," the legislator said.
Chandrakar has said that he would file a defamation suit against the airline management.
(With inputs from PTI)