What is my crime? Won't apologise to Air India staff: Sena MP Gaikwad

The MP claimed that he peacefully' asked the official for a complaints book to enter his objections, but he grabbed' me by the collar'.

New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Thursday witnessed utter chaos as Shiv Sena members, including Union Minister Anant Geete, surrounded Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju after he refused to heed to their demand for revoking the flying ban on their colleague Ravindra Gaikwad.

Remaining defiant, Gaikwad, who has been banned from flying by Air India and private airlines in the country after he beat an Air India manager with a slipper, said, “What wrong did I do? What is my crime?”

BJP members, including several union ministers, watched in shock as their allies hit Raju's bench in anger and did not let him leave.

Read: Air India to step up staff security at Mumbai, Pune airports

Soon thereafter several leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, tried to placate Geete and his colleagues while Raju was ushered out.

The incident occured soon after the House was adjourned as Sena members created a ruckus, protesting Raju's response to Gaikwad's statement. Gaikwad attended the House for the first time after the incident.

Read: ‘No flights will take off from Mumbai’: Sena MP charges at aviation minister in LS

They were upset with Raju's brief but pointed remarks following Gaikwad's statement in which the Sena MP denied any wrongdoing on his part and instead accused Air India officials of misbehaving with him and sought action against them, especially the airline's CMD.

He tendered an apology to Parliament but insisted that he owed no apology to the airline officials as he sought removal of the ban imposed on him by domestic airlines after he allegedly beat up an Air India officer with slippers.

Raju said it was up to Gaikwad to decide if he wanted to defuse the matter or aggravate it, asserting that what has happened is as per the law which will take its own course.

Refusing any preferential treatment to the Sena member, he said the matter was not about an MP but a passenger.

"Aircraft is a machine where people fly. Safety is important. Safety cannot be compromised," Raju said, apparently justifying the ban on Gaikwad.

His reply provoked the agitating Sena members who trooped out of their seats and surrounded Raju's seat in the front row.

Before Raju spoke, Geete too joined his colleagues in condemning the action against Gaikwad and appeared to be taking a dig at the central govenment, saying it is a people's government but the "one-sided decision" was "shameful and tragic".

Raju sat quietly as the Sena members, including Geete, shouted at him in anger.

After several adjournments, the Home Minister sought to defuse the crisis by telling the House that the Civil Aviation Minister will talk to "all stakeholders to reach an amicable solution."

Earlier when the Sena members surrounded Raju, Rajnath Singh, his ministerial colleagues Smriti Irani and others were seen placating Geete. The Home Minister later took his hand to usher him out of the House.

Congress members were heard shouting "shame, shame" over the chaos in the House while Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) joined Sena members in criticising Raju, asking under what law Gaikwad has been barred from flying.

Mallikarjun Kharge (Cong) was heard saying that union ministers were seen pushing each other and sought a reply from the Home Minister.

Making his case, Gaikwad, who read out his statement from a written text, sought justice saying he has been held guilty without a probe and was made a victim of media trial.

Denying the charge that he beat up an airline official, he claimed that a number of officials shouted at him and pushed him while he replied to them "quietly".

The Sena MP claimed that an official, when asked about his identity, told him that he was "Air India ka baap" (Air India's father) and taunted him by asking "are you Narendra Modi", when he said he was a Lok Sabha MP.Gaikwad claimed he just pushed an official only after he was pushed around.

Air India's charge that he fought with its officials over a seat was "wrong", he said, adding that airline officials got angry with him when he demanded a complaint book. He also lashed out at Air India and other airlines for barring him from flying.

Many members were seen smiling when he said he has been a teacher and humility is his nature.

Claiming that seven tickets were booked in his name after the incident, Gaikwad rejected reports that he had tried to book air tickets several times after the flying ban was imposed on him, maintaining he had never done so and claiming others had booked them. He demanded that Aadhaar card should be made mandatory for booking air tickets.

The guilty are moving around freely while he has been banned from flying, he said.

He also hit out at the Delhi Police for charging him under Section 308 of the IPC, which he claimed was invoked when the crime is "attempt to murder". He demanded that the charge should be quashed.

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