National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Monday informed that appropriate action is being taken in the matter where staff of IndoGo airlines barred a specially-abled adolescent and his parents from boarding a flight at the Ranchi airport stating that he was in "a state of panic."
In a tweet in Hindi, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said, "An incident of misbehavior with a specially-abled child by staff of IndiGo at Ranchi airport has come to fore. Cognizance is being taken for appropriate action."
— प्रियंक कानूनगो Priyank Kanoongo (@KanoongoPriyank) May 9, 2022
The incident took place on Saturday (7 May), when the specially-abled boy was restricted from boarding IndiGo Ranchi-Hyderabad flight. The aviation regulator - Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) - had on Sunday informed that it has initiated a probe and has asked the airline to submit a report.
The boy's parents also had decided not to take the flight to Hyderabad as their son was prohibited from boarding the aircraft.
The incident came into the spotlight after a person, an eye-witness, took to social media, sharing details of what had happened at the Ranchi airport on Saturday. The account shared by Manish Gupta soon got viral.
In his post, Gupta wrote, "The Indigo staff announced that the child would not be allowed to take the flight. That he was a risk to other passengers. That he would have to become 'normal', before he could be travel-worthy. And the staff then went on to state something on lines of 'behaviours such as this, and that of drunk passengers, deems them unfit to travel."
Soon there was an uproar at the airport after the announcement as other passengers of the IndiGo Ranchi-Hyderabad flight said that they did not have any problem with the child and his parents travelling in the same aircraft. Also, there were doctors among the passengers who asked the ground staff to consult the airport doctor.
Another traveller, Abhinandan Mishra, who was present at Ranchi airport at the time of the incident said that the child had an uncomfortable car ride to the airport and it appeared that he was stressed on arrival at the boarding gate.
Yesterday an @IndiGo6E staff at Ranchi Airport did this. Shame on you @IndiGo6E.@JM_Scindia @DGCAIndia @PMOIndia
Please take strictest possible action.#specialneedchild #divyang pic.twitter.com/LpvSnXB8jg
— Abhinandan Mishra (@mishra_abhi) May 8, 2022
Mishra further recalled that the boy's parents, however, brought the situation under control with some food and love. However, at the time of boarding, IndiGo manager warned the family that the child would not be allowed to get on the plane unless he acted 'normally'.
The flight manager also reportedly announced that the specially-abled child is a flight risk and compared the condition to that of drunken passengers, deemed the child unfit for travel.
— Dibyendu Mondal (@dibyendumondal) May 8, 2022
What did IndiGo say in its defence?
IndiGo said, "In view of the safety of passengers, a specially-abled child could not board the flight with his family on 7 May, as he was in a state of panic."
The ground staff waited for him to calm down till the last minute but to no avail, it added.
IndiGo said that it made the family comfortable by providing them a hotel stay and they flew the next morning to their destination.
"We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers. IndiGo prides itself on being an inclusive organisation, be it for employees or its customers; and over 75,000 specially-abled passengers fly with IndiGo every month," IndiGo added.
With inputs from agencies