Budget airlines IndiGo on Saturday allegedly denied a specially abled child and their family from boarding a Hyderabad-bound flight at the Ranchi airport.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia announced that he probe the incident himself while Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is also probing the incident.
In a statement to The Indian Express, IndiGo defended their decision stating, "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."
What Did IndiGo Do?
According to a Facebook post by an eyewitness Manisha Gupta, IndiGo Airlines denied a child with special needs from boarding a flight to Hyderabad.
"An adolescent with special needs, was in great distress. He had had a very uncomfortable car ride to the airport. By the time he had gone through security check and reached the gate (almost an hour ahead of boarding), he seemed to be in the throes of hunger, thirst, anxiety and confusion," the post read.
After his parents were able to calm him down, many passengers gathered around the child asking if they could help. IndiGo staff came up to the family of three and warned them that they would not be allowed to board the flight if the child wouldn't become 'normal'.
The child had calmed down and had been fed as the family waited for boarding to begin. However, IndiGo staff barred the family from boarding the flight stating that he had to become 'normal'.
Fellow passengers including doctors and government officials tried to reason with the IndiGo staff member to assure him that as co-passengers of the child, they had no problem with him being allowed to board.
The post goes on to say that despite many passengers trying to reason with the IndiGo manager, he refused to allow the family to board saying, "This is my decision and you cannot do anything about it".
Gupta's account was corroborated by journalist Aditya Mani Jha who was also present at the airport and witnessed the incident.
What Have IndiGo Said In Their Defence?
IndiGo defended their decision citing passenger safety and claimed to be an inclusive organisation which caters to over 75,000 specially-abled passengers every month.
A spokesperson told The Indian Express,"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".
In a detailed statement issued on Monday, IndiGo said that the child had become "visibly in panic" at the boarding area and in accordance with the DGCA guidelines, the IndiGo staff were forced to prevent them from boarding the flight.