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Gone IndiGo

Gone IndiGo
Since it step into the Indian market in 2006, Indigo Airlines revolutionised domestic flying for Indians, offering travel with world-class facilities at nominal prices. After growing to become India's biggest airline, ranking consistently at the highest position across all parameters of judgment, Indigo's fate took a jerking brake after a video surfaced displaying the manhandling of a passenger by its ground staff. A certain Rajiv Katyal, who had boarded a flight from Chennai to Delhi, was caught in an altercation with some staff members; this seemingly innocuous verbal exchange soon escalated to become a physical fight, with the ground staff pinning the gentleman to the ground after refusing to let him board the bus to the terminal. This year has witnessed a series of mob violence, taking on the most brutal form, often resulting in death. In today's time, particularly, the physical assault has etched its fears in the minds of the people. Not that this would be deemed acceptable at another time, but today, the fear of life is a little more, as so many lives have slipped under the most ridiculous circumstances. The incident occurred on October 15, and its revelations were made only this Tuesday. The power of social media, sometimes a blessing, led to the rapid circulation and subsequent public outcry over this display of indecent and absolutely barbaric assault. Indigo, though the most popular among its fliers, could not gain their loyal support as everyone unanimously condemned this attack as unacceptable. What had further escalated public anger was a rumour that the whistleblower, who had publicised the event, was sacked by Indigo, who chose to punish him rather than the assaulters. After Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, called out for a detailed probe into the event and Minister of State for Civilian Aviation, Jayant Sinha sought for an answer from Indigo, president of the airlines, Aditya Ghosh, spoke up, describing his side of the story. Ghosh says that he had immediately apologised to Katyal in October and the whistleblower, a certain Montu Kalra, was fired as he was recognised as the one instigating the event, irking Katyal, rather than being a mere bystander. "The ex-employee, is the one you can hear instructing the other two colleagues who were junior to him to prevent the customer from boarding the bus...He instigated the event and provoked the customer by shooting the video...Kalra was not terminated because he either shot the video or as he is now claiming, brought this to our attention," says Ghosh in his letter. Ghosh's seven-page letter, detailing the incident as it unfurled also extends apologies for the event, emphasising that the situation could have been handled better displaying some more restraint, and is indeed regrettable. Indigo also claims that the other three ground staff involved in the altercation have been suspended and their airport licenses were temporarily withdrawn. Raju, Minister for Civil Aviation, sent out a strong message against the harassment of passengers by ordering the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to conduct an independent probe. Along with public fury and antipathy towards Indigo, what followed was a series of digs taken at the airline giant by fellow competitors, in the way of creative ads. Confusion breeds creativity, they say, we saw. Air India played on the idea of raising the hand by equating it to the traditional folding of hands in the gesture of a namaste rather than assault, its trademark, unlike its competitor's—it claims. Air India also came up with the tagline of 'Unbeatable' service, with the beat strategically written in Indigo's trademark blue. At a time when Kingfisher Airlines was still topical, it had initiated the ad-war game in 2007, when it put up boardings making witty passes at its competitors. Though the airline is now history, some of its creative acumen still remains relevant. The incident with Rajiv Katyal on Indigo this October sharply resonates an incident witnessed on a United Airlines flight in Chicago, USA, when a passenger was dragged out of his seat because he refused to give it up. This too was followed by public anger and widespread social media campaign against the airline. Indigo has struck a similar fate with this uncivilised act. The people are evidently angry, many would perhaps refrain from flying with Indigo and the Ministry of Civil Aviation too, has decided to not blink upon this incident. As Ghosh emphasised in his letter, better restraint has to be exercised in our civilised world. Assault can never be institutionalised in everyday parlance.

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