Air India

Wells Fargo sacks employee after Air India urination incident

The Air India passenger who allegedly urinated on a co-traveller mid-flight in an inebriated condition, Shankar Mishra, was on Friday sacked by his employer Wells Fargo. The accused, however, remains untraceable even as the Delhi Police have issued a look-out circular (LOC) and deployed four teams across three cities to nab him.

“Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour and we find these allegations deeply disturbing. This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo,” the U.S. financial services company said in a statement.

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According to his LinkedIn profile that has since been deleted, Mr. Shankar was a vice-president at the company. Though the mid-flight incident occurred on November 26, the airline not only failed to hand over the passenger to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) after the flight landed but delayed a police complaint until December 28 and reported the matter to the DGCA on January 4 after media glare when it announced that it imposed an an interim flying ban of 30 days on the errant passenger.

The Delhi Police, who are investigating the case, are trying to track down the 34-year-old man who is a resident of Mumbai, with an office in Bengaluru. It has also sought Mumbai Police’s help for further investigation.

The Delhi Police’s IGI airport unit has formed four teams, of which two have been sent to Mumbai and Bengaluru and the other two are working in Delhi. Teams were sent to his residence in Mumbai’s Kamgar Nagar in Kurla, but he wasn’t found there.

“His home was found to be locked and his family has not been cooperating with our investigation,” an officer said. According to Mr. Mishra’s technical surveillance analysis, his last location was found to be Bengaluru but no further leads have been received yet, the officer added.They have also contacted his employer Wells Fargo to join the investigation at the earliest.

An officer said that the accused’s lawyer informed him that there was a settlement between the accused and the elderly woman after the incident on Air India’s New York-Delhi flight of November 26 where the accused paid a small compensation of ₹15,000, but this was later returned by the family.

Delhi Commission for Women, too, on Friday, issued notices to Delhi Police, DGCA and Air India and sought an action-taken report against the airline for their negligence in the matter by January 10. The Commission called the incidents “extremely disturbing and serious.”

Mr. Mishra has been booked under sections pertaining tosexual harassment, outraging a woman’s modesty and obscenity. An FIR was registered on Wednesday. In response to the Air India incident of November 26, as well as another similar incident 10 days later on December 6 on a Paris-Delhi flight, the aviation safety regulator has issued an advisory to all airlines reinforcing the responsibilities of the pilots in ensuring safety of the passengers and aircraft, and of the crew in diffusing a situation and restraining the unruly passenger where necessary. It also reiterates that an airline is obligated to file an FIR and hand over such a passenger to the security forces when things go out of hand.

“Head of operations [of airlines] are hereby advised to sensitise pilots, cabin crew and Director-in-flight Services of their respective airlines on the topic of handling of unruly passenger through appropriate means under intimation to DGCA. Any non-compliance towards applicable regulations shall be dealt strictly and invite enforcement action,” reads the advisory issued by Ravindra Kumar, Director, Flight Stands Directorate at the DGCA.

The DGCA has already issued more than 20 show-cause notices to Air India, its pilots and cabin crew and will be examining whether they failed to perform their responsibilities laid down under various regulations, circulars and manuals of airlines approved by the DGCA.

These include the onus on the pilot-in-command to ensure safety of an aircraft and passengers along with flight discipline as laid down insub rule (2) ofthe Rule 141 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. Under the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) for handling of unruly passengers, a pilot-in-command is also responsible for informing the airline’s central control on the ground if there is a situation that can’t be brought under control by the cabin crew, and an airline representative has to lodge an FIR and hand over such a passenger to the concerned security agency once the aircraft lands at the airport.

Under the same CAR, cabin crew are also responsible for defusing a critical condition, and applying restraining devices once all other approaches fail. These devices are kept in aircraft cabin and are meant to be used against abusive and physically violent passengers and are often recommended by aircraft manufacturers as well.

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