The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) on Thursday filed a police complaint regarding the scuffle between passengers onboard a Thai Smile Airways plane from Bangkok to Kolkata earlier this week, and Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said such passenger behaviour is unacceptable.
The security watchdog said the police has already started its investigation, and further action will follow.
"With regard to the scuffle between passengers on board a @ThaiSmileAirway flight, a police complaint has been filed against those involved. Such behaviour is unacceptable," Scindia said in a tweet.
According to sources, the airline in a report submitted to aviation regulator DGCA said the scuffle started sometime after a passenger refused to return his reclining seat to the straight position despite requests from the cabin crew, and that there was no serious injury to any passenger.
A video clip of the incident that happened before the take-off of the A320 plane from Bangkok on December 26 was shared on social media on Wednesday. In the clip, a male passenger was being slapped multiple times by a few male co-passengers.
"BCAS has examined all reports from various entities, including those on social media and has taken a serious view of the incident. It has filed a police case under appropriate sections against all involved in the jurisdictional police station in Bidhannagar, West Bengal. The police has already started its investigations. Further action shall follow," BCAS Director General Zulfiquar Hasan told PTI on Thursday.
According to the report submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the male passenger refused to follow the cabin crew's instruction to bring the seat back to the straight position from the reclining position, saying he was having backache.
The crew also told the male passenger that in case of an evacuation, a reclining seat will block passengers behind him from moving and that he will not be able to perform the bracing position properly. While the passenger refused to follow the instruction, another passenger came and the fight started, as per the report.
The captain was informed about the situation and the take-off was delayed. Later, things calmed down and the flight continued as normal, it added.
On Thursday, a senior DGCA official said that in this case, the aircraft is registered in a foreign country and the incident also happened on foreign soil.
"Our laws do not apply in this case as it is a foreign operator and as per Chicago Convention, the oversight is with their regulator. Therefore, that regulator has to take appropriate action," the official told PTI.
Since the incident happened in Thailand, the regulator concerned will be the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
Queries sent to CAAT seeking comments on the incident did not immediately elicit any response.
Thai Smile Airways could not be immediately contacted for comments.
According to a male passenger who along with his mother was onboard the plane, the incident happened on December 26 before take-off. Later, other passengers and an air hostess pacified the individuals involved in the scuffle and the plane landed in Kolkata on Tuesday morning.
The passenger, who is from Kolkata, told PTI that he was worried about his mother who was sitting near the seat where the incident happened.
In the clip, two passengers were seen arguing before one of them first said 'haath neeche kar' (put down your hands) and then started slapping the other person. A few other passengers were also involved in the scuffle.
Last week, a video clip of a heated exchange between a passenger and an air hostess onboard an IndiGo flight from Istanbul to Delhi was shared on social media.
The heated exchange over the choice of meals onboard the flight happened on December 16.
IndiGo and DGCA, last week, said they were looking into the incident.
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