Indian airlines ban lawmaker

An Indian lawmaker who repeatedly beat an airline employee with a sandal after he was unable to get a business class seat has been banned by major Indian airlines on Friday.

Aviation officials said that Ravindra Gaikwad had boasted to reporters on Thursday that he had hit a staffer from national carrier Air India “25 times with my sandal”.

He was quoted he flogged the airline staff for his arrogance on a flight from the western city of Pune to Delhi.

The politician, whose Shiv Sena party is a partner of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, had been told in advance that he could not fly business class because it was an all-economy flight.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which includes private airlines like IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, said Gaikwad will not be allowed on flights with “immediate effect.”

Air India, which filed a police complaint, also cancelled the lawmaker’s return journey to Pune on Friday.

FIA demanded “strict action be taken against the MP by law enforcement agencies.”

“We believe that an assault on any one of our employees is an assault on all of us and on ordinary law-abiding citizens of our country who work hard to earn a living,” FIA said in a statement.

An unrepentant Gaikwad has accused Air India of poor service and demanded the staffer whom he assaulted apologize to him.

Gaikwad’s Shiv Sena party is known for its extremist views and is accused of promoting ethnic and religious intolerance.

In 2015, its activists smeared with black ink the face of an Indian political analyst for organizing the launch of a book by a minister from neighbouring rival Pakistan. (dpa/NAN)

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