Indian police have arrested an unruly airline passenger following a complaint by a woman on board an Air India flight from New York who said that he urinated on her.
Shankar Mishra was picked up by police in the southern city of Bengaluru and brought to the Indian capital on Saturday, New Delhi Police spokesperson Suman Nalva said on Sunday.
Nalva declined to say what Mishra told investigators after his arrest.
The Times of India newspaper cited Mishra as saying he was drunk and could not believe what he had done.
A New Delhi court sent him to prison for 14 days as police investigate the complaint accusing Mishra of outraging the modesty of a woman during the New York-New Delhi flight. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.
Sugata Bhattacharjee, another passenger on the flight, told reporters he saw Mishra consuming excessive liquor and that he was talking incoherently, asking him the same question about his family several times.
— #MeTooIndia (@IndiaMeToo) January 4, 2023
On Wednesday, Air India said in a statement that it had banned a male passenger for 30 days in compliance with regulations following the incident on November 26. The airline, which is owned by the Tata Group, said it had reported the matter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s air safety watchdog, for further action.
The DGCA, however, said on Thursday that it had sought details from the airline on the incident, but at first glance, it appeared that Air India had not complied with provisions related to the handling of an unruly passenger on board.
On Saturday, Air India issued written notices and grounded one pilot and four cabin crew as the incident triggered outrage on social media and among activists who said banning Mishra from flying for 30 days was not enough.
Air India said the crew did not summon the police upon landing in New Delhi as they believed that the two had sorted out the issue on their own. Indian media reports said Air India acted after being pressed by the family of the female passenger, a senior citizen, to punish Mishra.
“Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action,” the airline’s CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson said in a statement.
What happened on Air India with the drunk man urinating on a female passenger is sexual abuse and violation of the worst kind. Read the victims full account of what transpired. It’s horrendous that there was no one on ground to record the passengers complaint and follow it up . pic.twitter.com/ulIILKdyTU
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) January 5, 2023
Meanwhile, Mishra’s job as a Mumbai-based executive has been terminated by his employer Wells Fargo & Company, an American multinational financial services company, the firm said in a statement on Friday.
In 2017, India issued new standards barring unruly passengers from flying for a minimum of three months to more than two years depending on the nature of the misdemeanour.
Air India reported a second incident last week, which took place on a December 6 flight from Paris to New Delhi during which a male passenger urinated on a vacant seat and the blanket of another passenger.
Air India added that the male passenger on the Paris flight had been taken into custody on arrival at New Delhi but was later released by federal police after he reached an understanding with the victim and tendered a written apology.