IndiGo has imposed a flying ban on Kerala ruling front LDF's Convenor EP Jayarajan and two Youth Congress workers in connection with the scuffle onboard the plane carrying state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last month.
The development triggered a fresh political slugfest between the Left and Congress on Monday.
The country's largest airline's decision comes a little over a month after the incident on June 13, when the two protestors shouted slogans against the chief minister inside the IndiGo aircraft soon after it landed at Thiruvananthapuram airport from Kannur. Jayarajan, who was also onboard, allegedly pushed aside the two protesters.
A three-week travel ban has been imposed on Jayarajan and a two-week ban each on the two Youth Congress workers, Farzeen Majid and Naveen Kumar, according to sources.
There was no comment from IndiGo on the decision.
Under the aviation regulations, airlines have the power to ban passengers for varying periods for unruly behaviour. The ban means that the three individuals cannot fly IndiGo for the specified period as they are now included in the no-fly list of the airline.
Irked by the three-week ban, an outspoken Jayarajan on Monday said neither he nor his family would ever travel by IndiGo.
"Neither me nor my family will ever travel by Indigo again. I will walk to my destination if required but will not travel on their planes," he said.
The state's ruling CPI (M) protested the flying ban on Jayarajan and urged the airline to re-examine its decision.
However, Congress, the opposition party in the state, has demanded the arrest of Jayarajan for his unruly behaviour.
Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly VD Satheesan alleged Jayarajan committed a more serious crime than the alleged crime committed by the Youth Congress workers.
"The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that Jayarajan did not commit any crime. A case should be registered against Jayarajan who beat up the protesting Youth Congress workers," he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
This is the latest flashpoint between the ruling LDF and Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) that are already at loggerheads over a raft of issues.
According to a senior official at aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), it is up to other airlines to decide whether these people should be barred from flying on their flights too.
There was no response from SpiceJet and Vistara on whether they would also be imposing a travel ban on the three individuals.
"Air India has always been adhering to all the rules and guidelines laid down by the regulatory authorities/ CAR/ DGCA and will act conforming to the same in any given situation," a senior Air India official said.
CAR refers to Civil Aviation Requirements.
As per norms, when an airline receives a complaint of unruly/disruptive behaviour by a passenger, then the incident shall be referred by the airline concerned to an Internal Committee. The committee decides the period of flying ban for such passengers.
Earlier in the day, one of the Youth Congress workers, Farzeen Majid, told a Malayalam television channel that he has received a notice, informing that he has been banned from flying for two weeks.
On June 13, the Youth Congress workers were protesting against the chief minister over allegations against him in a gold smuggling case.
Following the incident last month, the two protestors and another Youth Congress member were booked for an attempt to murder, according to Kerala police.
The FIR by the police in Thiruvananthapuram said that due to political enmity, the three accused, namely Farzeen Majid, Naveen Kumar and Suneeth Kumar conspired to kill the chief minister and boarded the flight from Kannur to Thiruvananthapuram.
A case was registered against three Youth Congress workers under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 120B (conspiracy), 307 (attempt to murder) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), the police had said.
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