Air India Urination Incident: Victim Speaks On Negligence In Handling Matter By Flight Crew Members

Air India is under investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) over its handling of an incident in which a business class passenger sexually assaulted and harassed a woman on a flight from New York to Delhi.

Air India Urination Incident: Victim Speaks On Negligence In Handling Matter By Flight Crew Members

As the search for Shankar Mishra, the suspect in the sexual assault and harassment incident on an Air India flight, continues, police have deployed two teams to track him down. One team has been sent to Bengaluru, where Mishra’s sister resides and where he was last seen. The accused's sister is being interrogated by the police.

The other team has been dispatched to Mumbai, where Mishra’s father lives. 

The police officials are looking for him but he is absconding since the matter came to light.

In addition to the search for the suspect, the police also plan to gather statements from the crew and pilot involved in the incident, seeking an explanation for why the incident was not reported when it occurred on November 26.

For those unversed, on November 26, an incident of alleged sexual assault and harassment occurred on an Air India flight from New York to Delhi. 

As per the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the airline, Mumbai businessman Shankar Mishra is accused of unzipping and urinating on a 70-year-old woman passenger while allegedly drunk, and then leaving only when another passenger asked him to return to his seat.

Despite the woman's letter being sent on November 27, a day after the incident, Air India did not file a police complaint until January 4. The airline stated that it did not go to the authorities because it felt that both parties had "settled the matter". However, the CEO of Air India, Campbell Wilson, has now written to staff asking them to report any improper behavior on flights as soon as possible "even if the matter appears to have been settle".

According to the woman, the crew was “deeply unprofessional” and failed to help her get through the situation. In her letter to the Air India group chairman, N Chandrasekharan, which is part of the FIR, the woman detailed her "appalling experience" on the flight. She claimed that when she complained to the crew that her seat, clothes, bag and shoes were soaked in urine, the staff refused to touch them, sprayed her belongings with disinfectant, and provided her with pyjamas and socks.

When she requested a change of seat, she was told that none were available, although another passenger claimed otherwise. The crew then reportedly brought Mishra to her seat and as he begged not to be arrested, stating that he was a family man and did not want his wife and child to be affected by the incident. The woman had earlier refused to be met with Mishra.

As of now, Shankar Mishra faces a 30-day flight ban. He has been charged under Indian Penal Code sections 294 (obscene act in public place), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), and 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person), as well as under Aircraft Rules. A lookout circular has been issued to prevent him from fleeing the country, and efforts are being made to apprehend him.

Air India has faced fierce backlash and an investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) over its handling of the incidence. The DGCA has condemned the airline's actions as "unprofessional" and contributing to a "systemic failure", and has demanded explanations from Air India officials, the pilot, and the crew. The DGCA's investigation follows accusations from the victim that the crew was "deeply unprofessional" in their handling of the situation. The airline has also faced criticism for its delay in filing a police complaint about the incident.

The woman who was allegedly assaulted has received a partial refund from Air India, which she stated was "hardly sufficient compensation for my traumatic experience". It is unclear at this time what further action will be taken in this case.

Who is Shankar Mishra?

Shankar Mishra has been identified as the Vice President of the India Chapter of Wells Fargo, an American multinational financial services company based in California. In a statement, Wells Fargo stated that it holds its employees to the "highest standards of professional and personal behavior" and is fully cooperating with the authorities in their inquiries regarding the incident. It is pertinent to note that Shankar Mishra is a resident of Mumbai’s Kurla (east). 

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