Aviation Minister steps in after IndiGo bars specially-abled child from boarding flight; Details here

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia announced that he himself was investigating allegations that budget carrier IndiGo on Saturday barred a specially-abled child from boarding at Ranchi as he was in “a state of panic”. The minister also said that no human being should have to go through such an experience. The boy and his were travelling to Hyderabad. After the airline allegedly barred the boy from boarding, his parents also decided not to board. The incident came to light after other passengers posted about it on social media.

Scindia responded to one social media post on Monday and tweeted: “There is zero tolerance towards such behaviour. No human being should have to go through this! Investigating the matter by myself, post which appropriate action will be taken.” He added that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was probing into the incident and would take appropriate action.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar has already announced a probe into the incident and sought a report from IndiGo.

The incident was first brought to light on Facebook by a passenger at the airport waiting for another flight. The author, Manisha Gupta, told The Indian Express that the IndiGo ground staff did not show any compassion. The on-duty staff had made up his mind, Gupta said, adding that she worked in the social sector and had experience in dealing with disability rights matters.

Gupta also shared a video along with her post, showing several passengers arguing with the IndiGo ground staff and seeking to speak with a supervisor. It also showed the child seated on a wheelchair.

In her post, Gupta wrote that a delegation of doctors on the same flight asked the ground staff to get the airport doctor to decide on the child’s fitness and also offered full support to the child and his parents during the flight. Several other passengers, including a man identifying himself as a government official, questioned the staff’s decision.

In a statement, IndiGo said: “In view of the safety of passengers, a specially-abled child could not board the flight with his family on May 7, 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. The airline made the family comfortable by providing them hotel stay and the family 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.”

Vinod Sharma, director of the Ranchi Birsa Munda Airport said they were also looking into the issue.