The government is still going through the process of creating the provision for a national no-fly list.
The need for hastening a formal “no-fly” list cannot be more urgent than at the present time when an endemic VIP culture seems to have erupted across the country’s airports. Legislators have been the major culprits, with members of Parliament figuring in two recent instances of VIP tantrums, either on board an airliner or on the ground attempting to board one. It would appear that the law of the land should apply uniformly when it comes to irascible behaviour in public, like attacking, verbally or physically, airline staff, who are only doing their duty. But no, the law is only known to recognise inequality as VIPs go scot-free even when found damaging airline equipment in full public view or assaulting an airline staff member with slippers. The two legislators, Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad and Teugu Desam’s J.C. Diwakar Reddy, both coincidentally from alliance partners of the ruling NDA, have been the worst examples of a rampant VIP culture that is an affront to the basic tenets of democracy.
The government is still going through the process of creating the provision for a national no-fly list. While airlines may be responding promptly to ban violent customers, it is also a fact that privileged MPs find ways to beat the rap with just a weak apology, as in the case of Mr Gaikwad. Mr Diwakar Reddy is currently in Paris, presumably having checked in on time with his family for the international flight as foreign airlines are less likely to be as accommodating as domestic airlines when it comes to VIPs. It may be months before a law is made to curb atrocious behaviour at airports where at least punctuality has to be a sacrosanct rule. Inside an airport and in an aircraft everyone is just a passenger, regardless of how much s/he has paid for the ticket in comparison to the person in the next seat.
Millions of ordinary Indians rush to airports every day to get through security and board flights. The privileged, eligible by Indian law to have their names on a “No frisking” list too, invariably come late and disrupt the efforts of airlines to fly on time. Egomaniacal behaviour with regard to privileges on board is also the cause of much heartburn.
The Gaikwad incident should have been a lesson, but sadly not yet learnt as the government continues to procrastinate. Any other passenger displaying disruptive behaviour of the kind Mr Diwakar Reddy indulged in at Viskhapatnam airport last week would have been held by CISF and taken to a police station to register an FIR.
Mr Diwakar Reddy’s prevarication has been proven beyond dispute by CCTV evidence and his party colleague, and the aviation minister has tried to put some distance between himself and another unruly VVIP flier. But it’s high time privileges at airports are withdrawn because VIPs brazenly misuse them. None of them even aspire to be in the polite flier class like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who, as Opposition leader, was seen standing in airline counter queues and baggage carousels like any other Indian.