Air India revokes ban on MP who beat employee

Picture of MP Ravinda Gaikwad from government website Image copyright PArliament of india
Image caption The MP said the flying ban was preventing him from carrying out his duties effectively

Air India has revoked a flight ban on a lawmaker who beat one of its employees, after government intervention.

The move came shortly after the airline cancelled tickets booked by Ravindra Gaikwad, from the Hindu hard-line Shiv Sena party, on Friday.

Mr Gaikwad wrote to the civil aviation minister to express "regret", but had refused to apologise to Air India.

The ban made headlines around India and on social media.

Most people have sided with the airline and expressed shock at the MP's behaviour.

Before the ban was revoked on Friday, Mr Gaikwad is reported to have tried to buy tickets several times without success.

According to Indian media, the Air India chief told Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju that the ban would continue until Mr Gaikwad apologised to airline staff.

However, they had to lift the ban after Mr Raju wrote to the chairman of the airline on Friday, asking that the ban be revoked with immediate effect.

Parliament stand-off

The row erupted in March when Mr Gaikwad admitting hitting a 60-year-old Air India employee "25 times with my sandal" for "arrogance" after failing to get a business class seat on an all-economy flight.

The altercation happened when the duty manager was called after the plane landed in Delhi and the MP refused to get off.

He was subsequently banned by Air India and several other domestic airlines. A pilot federation also refused to fly any plane on which he is a passenger.

The ban was the cause of chaotic scenes in parliament on Thursday as MPs from the Shiv Sena party engaged in a stand-off with the civil aviation minister, Mr Raju, who refused to rescind the ban until Mr Gaikwad apologised.

Mr Raju had to be escorted into his chambers when a furious Shiv Sena member charged at him and thumped on his desk in anger.

The party then threatened to disrupt Air India operations in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, leading the airline to hire extra security in the state's two main airports, Mumbai and Pune.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Air India says it will not allow Mr Gaikwad to fly until he apologises

The Shiv Sena party is a junior coalition partner in the Maharashtra state government, which is ruled by India's governing BJP.

Over time, it has acquired a reputation for promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism, and has resorted to physical attacks against those its members and supporters oppose.

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