Bengaluru: A woman who travelled by an AirAsia India flight has alleged that she was sexually harassed by three crew members, days after the airline filed a complaint with the police and DGCA against her for being a “disruptive passenger”.
AirAsia India has denied the charge and said it dealt with the incident as per laid down procedure. The woman in an FIR with the police alleged that a flight steward made “unwelcome physical advances” onboard and spoke rudely to her after she complained about an unclean washroom in the plane while travelling from Ranchi to Bengaluru via Hyderabad on November 3.
AirAsia India, however, said in a statement that the passenger verbally abused a senior cabin crew after she was asked to switch off her mobile phone and filed a complaint with the Airport Police against her when the plane landed in Bengaluru as well as informed the DGCA as per “standard operating procedures followed for disruptive passengers”.
“He was trying to be touchy while there was no one around near the washroom. I found that awkward but did not say much as I was not sure about his behaviour,” she said in the FIR. She claimed that the crew insulted her verbally while serving her coffee and told her to switch off her phone rudely. The police have registered a case under IPC sections related to wrongful restraint, assault or use criminal force on woman to outrage her modesty and other charges on the basis of the passenger’s complaint.
The woman also alleged that after arriving in Bengaluru, a ground staff personnel stopped her from getting into the terminal bus and held her with four more staff on the runway against her will. “I was the only woman on the runway. Everybody else had left,” she claimed. She said she filed the complaint with Bengaluru police on November 7 against three crew members for “molestation, misbehaviour, threatening and rowdyism”.
AirAsia India said that it dealt with the incident as per the laid-down procedure. “The airline filed a complaint with the Airport Police (on November 3) and reported the matter to the DGCA the next day, following all laid down civil aviation requirement by the regulator,” it said. The airline said that it was the passenger who was abusing the crew member. “The senior cabin crew who was operating the flight, following the pre-take off safety and security procedures, noticed the lady passenger seated in seat 17F speaking on the phone and requested her to switch off her mobile phone as this is against prescribed safety procedures… The passenger resorted to verbal abuse against the senior cabin crew,” the statement added.
The airline said that once the plane arrived in Bengaluru the “disruptive passenger” was escorted in a crew coach along with a security staff of the airline to the passenger arrival hall and then to the airport police station with the airline’s lady security staff and two CISF personnel. As per rules framed the DGCA in September, a passenger can face a flying ban from three months to lifetime for an act misbehaviour onboard a flight. DGCA rules say that the pilot-in-command of an aeroplane can report an incident involving an unruly passenger to the airline and the matter will be investigated by its internal committee within 30 days.