Two days after 19-year-old shooter Manu Bhaker demanded action against Air India officials at the capital’s IGI Airport for alleged harassment and seeking of bribes, the national carrier has denied the allegations against its employees.
In a statement on Sunday, the airline said that CCTV footage nullifies the claims of Bhaker over alleged seeking of bribes and snatching of her mobile phone.
“Our employee Manoj Gupta was at the counter throughout and had, at no point, communicated directly with Bhaker. This is also corroborated by the CCTV footage. Hence, the allegation of misbehaviour by him simply does not arise,” it said.
On Friday, the Olympic quota place winner pistol ace evening alleged that she was harassed by Air India officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) while she was trying to board a flight from Delhi to Bhopal.
The 19-year-old Haryana shooter, who was carrying two weapons and ammunition on her way to Bhopal Shooting Academy, was later allowed to board the flight.
Claiming that the document for exemption shown by the shooter was not valid as it was signed only by the Assistant Secretary of the National Rifle Association, Air India said: “The moment she furnished the required document to the Air India check-in and security personnel, her baggage, including the arms were accepted for carriage.”
The statement said that the airline was only following the protocol regarding a sensitive activity like the carriage of arms on board.
It further claimed “zero tolerance” for any kind of misdemeanour or arbitrary demand from its employees, like the ones alleged by sportsperson.
“Only the legitimate documents were asked for, contrary to the allegations made,” it said.
After being stopped at the Indira Gandhi Airport on Friday, Bhaker tweeted her ‘problem’, tagging Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, besides others. Apparently, after Rijiju’s intervention she eventually boarded the AI 437 flight.
Manu tweeted five times on Friday, starting at 8.17 p.m., and the last one was posted at 8.57 p.m., after she was cleared to board the flight. She thanked the Sports Minister in her last tweet.
In another tweet on Saturday, she again said that the AI employee Manoj Gupta did not listen to the DGCA official who issued the permit and on his instructions the Air India security person snatched her phone and deleted the picture clicked by her mother.