A north Kashmir-based businessman travelling from New Delhi to Srinagar said he and his aged mother were prevented from boarding a plane last week at Delhi airport and has accused a private airline of discriminating against him on the basis of his religion.
Khurshid Ahmad Mir, a resident of Baramulla district, and his 85-year-old mother Taja Begum were scheduled to board the IndiGo flight 6E 555 on April 20 but were barred for no apparent reasons.
“I had arrived well before time and even my luggage had passed through. There was some time for the flight departure. I went down and by the time I came back they had closed the gates,” Mir said. “There was no announcement and when I asked the reason, I was told they no longer make announcements.”
Mir said he was asked to book tickets for new flight to Srinagar despite the fact that there was 20 minutes left for the flight take off. “I was made to wait for more than half an hour and then my luggage was brought back from Cargo. They did not allow me to board despite the remaining time,” he said.
Mir alleged the next day when he returned to Delhi airport, he witnessed that announcements were made as usual.
“This is sheer discrimination and intolerance with me because I am a Muslim. I even told them my mother is aged and cannot walk properly, but still I was forced to book a new flight,” he said.
However, IndiGo airlines said that Khurshid Ahmad Mir and Taja Begum were not accepted for this flight due to reporting after gate closure time.
“The gate closure time mentioned on the boarding pass was 25 minutes prior to scheduled departure. The reporting time for boarding was 12 35 hrs. As per the CCTV footage, both passengers had reached the gate 7B, at 1255 hrs – when the boarding was closed for this flight,” the airlines said in an emailed reply.
It claimed that the staff at the airport offered assistance to passengers, and accommodated both in the subsequent flight (i.e. on the following day).
Asked why the announcements were not made, it said that Delhi airport is a “silence airport. Hence, there are no announcements made before flight departures. To educate passengers against all flight departures/timings – signages and TV screens are placed across the airport. It has been our consistent endeavor to offer hassle free experience to passengers. Our staff exhibits this to all passengers, but also ensures to follow all prescribed protocols.”