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DGCA to probe IndiGo’s passenger manhandling incident: Minister

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Indigo Passenger manhandling
Indigo Passenger manhandling, Photo twitter image

New Delhi, Nov 8: Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday asked the sector regulator to probe the October 15 incident in which an IndiGo airline passenger was manhandled by the carrier’s staff at Delhi airport.

According to Raju, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will probe the incident and submit a report.

“This type of barbarous things should not be allowed… violence has to be condemned… I have called for a report from the government agencies,” Raju told reporters here.

Additionally, the Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued notice to the airline for not informing it about termination of service of employees who had access to airport secured areas.

The current rules mandate the airline to inform the BCAS when any employee is suspended or his services terminated and submit their airport entry passes (AEPs).

The development comes a day after a video showed IndiGo’s passenger Rajiv Katyal being manhandled by the airline’s staff after a verbal altercation.

Details of the incident, which took place on October 15, surfaced only on Tuesday after the video went viral on social media.

The video showed Katyal, who arrived from Chennai, waiting for a passenger bus at the airport when the incident took place.

On Wednesday, IndiGo submitted a report on the incident to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

On Tuesday, Union Minister Jayant Sinha had sought a report from the budget carrier regarding the incident.

The airline, in its seven-page report said that its employee Montu Kalra — since sacked by IndiGo — who shot the video about the incident, was indeed the one who “instigated the incident and further provoked the customer by beginning to shoot a video on his mobile phone”. The airline said Kalra was a cargo employee and had no reason to approach the passenger area.

After the video surfaced, social media was abuzz, slamming the airline for terminating the services of Kalra, who was called a “whistleblower”.

“At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for this regrettable incident, we have also taken action… I personally called and apologised to Mr. Katyal (the customer) three weeks ago,” IndiGo airline’s President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh said in the report.

“Even during the pendency of the investigation, we recognised that whatever may have been the provocation, my colleagues should have exercised restraint. Even while the investigation was being conducted, we immediately suspended the involved employees.”

According to Ghosh, Kalra, whose services were terminated and “is claiming to be the whistleblower, is the one you can hear shouting in the video and instructing the other two colleagues who were junior to him to prevent the customer from boarding the bus and holding him back at the ramp area itself”.

He said: “It is important for us to point out that Kalra was not terminated because he either shot a video or, as he is now claiming, brought this to our attention.”

The airline also clarified that another of its employees Juby Thomas was the one who brought the incident to the company’s notice.

“When our staff Juby Thomas saw Mr Katyal inadvertently moving towards the catering high-lift (which was attached to the aircraft), Juby Thomas started waving frantically from a distance in order to ask Mr Katyal to move away with the sole intention of preventing any accident,” the report described the incident.

“It is possible that due to the very noisy ramp area, Mr Katyal could not hear Juby Thomas properly and which led to a miscommunication… Unfortunately, at the spur of the moment, it seems that Mr Katyal asked Juby Thomas to F***_*ff. In hindsight, Juby Thomas should have probably ignored the remark, However, Juby Thomas turned around and asked Mr Katyal why he is abusing him. To this, Mr Katyal responded by asking Juby Thomas to go do his own work.”

“The irony of the fact is that Juby Thomas was indeed doing his work and ensuring safety of passengers. In an ideal scenario, Mr Katyal would have moved away, boarded the bus from the ramp area and gone to the arrival hall and the matter would have ended there.”

“However, unfortunately, what transpired was something that is not in accordance with the laid down procedures and resulted in an incident which is a departure from IndiGo’s ethos.”

IANS

India

Malegaon Blast Case: MP Pragya Thakur Fails To Appear In NIA Court

The court has directed all the accused, including Pragya Thakur, to be present before it on December 19.

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Pragya Singh Thakur

A special NIA court here on Thursday said the trial in 2008 Malegaon blast case will resume from Friday and directed all the seven accused to remain present in the court on December 19.

Special NIA court judge P R Sitre had earlier directed all the accused in the case, including BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, to remain present in the court on Thursday.

However, Pragya Thakur, Ramesh Upadhayay, Sudhakar Diwedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi did not appear in the court.

Thakur had appeared before the court in June last year after it ordered the seven accused to remain present once a week. She later sought exemption from appearance on various occasions since then.

Lt Col Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni and Ajay Rahikar were present before the judge on Thursday.

The lawyers of the other four accused told the court that their clients were absent due to the Covid-19 situation.

The court then directed all the accused to be present before it on December 19.

It said the trial in the case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), will resume from Friday.

Six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The court had framed terror charges against Purohit, Thakur and five other accused in October 2018.

The trial in the case could not proceed since March this year as the normal functioning of the courts was hampered due to the Covid-19 situation.

Responding to a plea seeking day-to-day trial in the case, the probe agency had earlier told the court that it was making all efforts to expedite the case.

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Varavara Rao To Stay At Private Hospital Till December 14: Bombay High Court

The 81-year-old activist was admitted to Nanavati hospital on November 18.

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Varavara Rao

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the condition of poet-activist Varavara Rao, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, had improved but he will continue to remain at a private hospital till December 14.

A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik perused a medical report submitted by the Nanavati hospital here where Rao was admitted on November 18.

“There is some slight improvement. He shall continue to remain admitted there till December 14,” the court said.

The HC will hear the petition filed by Rao seeking bail on medical grounds and another filed by his wife Hemalata seeking that he be shifted to Nanavati hospital from jail for medical treatment on December 14.

On November 18, the High Court had noted that Rao was 81 years old, suffered from neurological ailments and also needed post-Covid-19 care after recovering from the viral infection.

A person was on death bed and in such circumstances, the state government cannot say that he should be treated in the jail, the Court had said.

Following the court’s observations, the Maharashtra government had on November 18 agreed to shift Rao from Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai to the Nanavati hospital and also to bear the expenses of his treatment.

The HC on Thursday said that the lawyers of the petitioners as well as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — which is probing the case — shall go through the medical report, and posted the matter for further hearing on December 14.

Rao had been in and out of the state-run JJ hospital in the city and the Taloja prison hospital since his arrest in June 2018.

On July 16 this year, he tested positive for coronavirus and was shifted to the Nanavati hospital. He was discharged on July 30 and sent back to the prison.

His and his wife’s petitions claimed that he was suffering from several ailments.

Rao and a few other left-leaning activists were arrested for alleged links with Naxals following the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017.

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AIIMS Director Pins Hopes On Five Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates

At least one locally-tested vaccine could get emergency use authorisation by the end of this month or early 2021, Dr Guleria says.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday pinned his hopes on the five Covid-19 vaccine candidates which are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India, stating they are logistically feasible for distribution in both urban and rural areas.

His assertion comes amid Pfizer-BioNTech’s anti-coronavirus vaccine getting emergency clearance in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus from as early as next week.

Dr Guleria expressed hope that by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of the five vaccines being locally-tested should get emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator to be administered to the public starting with priority groups.

According to sources, global pharma giant Pfizer had talks with the Indian government late August, but since then there has been no development.

During a briefing last month, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul, who also heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, said that sufficient doses of the Pfizer vaccine as required for the Indian population will not be available but the government is examining the possibilities and will work out a strategy (for its procurement and distribution) in case the vaccine gets regulatory approvals.

The requirement of extremely low temperature of -70 degree Celsius for storing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer poses a big challenge for its delivery in a developing nation like India, especially in its smaller towns and rural areas where maintaining such cold chain facilities would be very difficult, Guleria said.

“Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India and no significant serious adverse effects have been seen so far. Also, they are logistically feasible for distribution in a large country like India, both in its urban and rural parts.

“Hopefully, by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of them should get emergency authorisation from the Indian drug regulator for its distribution among Indian population,” he said.

The five vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine, while the indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR has already started the phase-3 clinical trial.

Another indigenously-developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has also completed phase -2 clinical trial in the country.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Tuesday announced the start of adaptive phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.

Also, Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

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