Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju Friday said he was upset with the Civil Aviation Minister for his statement made a day ago, wherein he apologised to passengers who faced inconvenience because of VIP movement.
Rijiju also told The Indian Express that he would write a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, asking him to seek an explanation from Air India on the circumstances under which the public airline advanced the flight timings, causing inconvenience to all the passengers, including him.
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Rijiju also said no passengers were offloaded to make way for him and Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Nirmal Singh on June 24.
“I am very upset with the way Air India or the Civil Aviation Minister has clarified because we are colleagues and we are responsible for the misconduct of any of our government officials or PSUs like Air India. Civil Aviation Ministry must immediately seek a report and I want to know the reason why Air India changed the original schedule from Leh to Delhi, preponing it by nearly an hour, causing injustice to all of us, all the passengers. It must be explained,” said Rijiju.
On Thursday, while addressing a press conference, Raju had said, “We will take corrective action so that these things are never repeated. It is indefensible. We apologise to all passengers who have faced inconvenience.”
This came after the Prime Minister’s Office sought a report on delays in Air India flights caused by VIP movement. While one incident allegedly involved the principal secretary of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the other was linked to Rijiju and Singh.
Asserting that no passenger was offloaded, Rijiju said, “The passengers were not allowed to board the aircraft as Air India preponed the flight timing at the last minute. They were also stuck like us. When we reached the airport, we were rushed to the tarmac. Three passengers were offloaded to accommodate a minister? How can you do that? This is just not permissible. I think journalists in the media and people of India are being misled by a few people. Whoever has said that three passengers were offloaded to accommodate a minister has done a lot of damage to the system. Even if such a rule exists, I will never avail this facility. I will not accept this.”
In a letter to the Civil Aviation Minister on June 30, Singh had complained about the conduct of Air India, which reportedly gave a dressing down to the VIP contingent when they arrived late.
Asked about a video, in which passengers can be seen gesturing angrily at the VIP contingent in the Air India aircraft, Rijiju said, “Some people were angry that the flight had been delayed because of us. But there were others who came to us and said we were not at fault as Air India does it often in the Ladakh sector.”