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AI pilots on hunger strike

Eleven striking pilots of Air India Sunday went on an indefinite hunger strike seeking the reinstatement of 101 sacked pilots.

‘Our protest is for the reinstatement of our sacked colleagues and for the recognition of our union,’ Rohit Kapahi of the Indian Pilots Guild, which has been de-recognised by the government, said.

‘We want to bring the strike to an end as soon as possible,’ added Kapahi, who is one of the 101 pilots dismissed from service for going on strike.

The hunger strikers are seated on a stage near Jantar Mantar observatory, in the heart of the city.

Around 440 pilots struck work on 8 May against the management’s move to train pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines in the merged entity on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing-787 Dreamliner.

‘The management has accused some pilots of being ‘ransom terrorists’ and terminated people who have clean records,’ said Hari Shankar, another pilot.

Added a senior commander: ‘We do care about passengers. We have been flying for the past 18 months with delayed salaries to avoid inconvenience to them but now everything is out of our control.’

Meanwhile, in a bid to end the deadlock, the government has been giving feelers to the pilots to end the strike.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh invited the pilots to resume work, after which, he said, the sacked pilots will be reinstated on a case-to-case basis.

The strike on Sunday entered its 48th day. It has reportedly caused a revenue loss of Rs 530 crore.
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