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Italian woman ‘punched and spat’ on India flight

01-02-2023

ABU DHABI: The crew of an Indian airline tied an Italian woman to her seat during a flight after she allegedly punched one member of staff and spat on another.

The woman, who was travelling on a Vistara flight from Abu Dhabi, was arrested in Mumbai on Monday and later released on police bail.

Her lawyer has denied the allegations, saying it is a “false story” but Vistara said its staff had to restrain the woman for “continued unruly conduct and violent behavior”.

The Times of India newspaper reported that a Vistara staff member alleged in a police complaint that the passenger punched them and spat on their colleague.

According to the complaint, the crew member had objected after the woman left her economy class seat to sit in business class.

The complaint also accuses the woman of “stripping and littering the plane”.

Vistara said in a statement that the flight’s captain “issued a warning card and made a decision to restrain the customer” because of her behavior.

The woman’s lawyer, Prabhakar Tripathi, told media that she was “uncomfortable” in her allotted seat and “requested to be moved to a vacant seat” and that caused a “disagreement” with the crew. He said she was also allegedly not allowed to use the bathroom due to turbulence.

“She was later allowed to go to the washroom but was tied up on return,” Tripathi said. He also denied media reports which quoted police officers as saying that the woman was drunk.

A senior Mumbai police official told reporters that the woman was “booked for misbehaving”.

“We served her a notice and produced her before the court, following which she was allowed to go,” said Dikshit Gedam, a deputy commissioner of police.

Scrutiny of misconduct by air passengers has increased in India after a man was arrested in January for allegedly urinating on a female passenger, the incident sparked criticism of how the airline, Air India, had handled the incident.

Since then, several cases of alleged unruly behavior have been reported on board other Indian flights.

Earlier, the head of India’s Tata Sons conglomerate has expressed “anguish” over an incident in which a drunk man allegedly urinated on a female passenger on one of their flights.

The incident took place in late November on a Tata-run Air India flight but it was reported only last week when the woman filed a complaint.

The news led to massive outrage in India with criticism of how Air India handled the incident. The man was arrested over the weekend.

He was also fired from his job at US banking firm Wells Fargo.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran said the airline should have been swifter in its response.

“We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature,” he said.

The incident took place on 26 November in the business class cabin of a New York-Delhi flight. The accused Shankar Mishra was allegedly drunk when he apparently urinated on one of his co-passengers, a 72-year-old woman.

“My clothes, shoes and bag were completely soaked in urine,” the woman wrote in her complaint to Chandrasekaran the next day.

The woman said she asked the crew for a change of seat, but was told that nothing was available and was instead offered a small seat used by staff. She alleged that the crew also brought the man to her against her wishes, so he could apologies. (Int’l News Desk)

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