Man arrested after urinating on 71-year-old passenger on Air India flight from JFK

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Authorities have arrested an Indian man on the run who was wanted for urinating on an elderly woman on an Air India flight from JFK, New York to New Delhi while inebriated.

Shankar Mishra, 34, reportedly unzipped his pants and urinated on a 71-year-old woman in the business class section of the Indian national carrier during the November 26 flight.

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Delhi police registered an official complaint, First Information Report (FIR), against Mishra after the victim filed an official grievance with the authorities on January 4, according to numerous Indian media reports.

Until Friday, Mishra was reported missing. After a copy of the FIR made round of social media, the matter escalated, many calling for legal action in support of the elderly victim.

Some local media reports claim that Mishra “begged” the woman not to report him to the authorities, saying it would impact his family.

He was arrested, six weeks later, in the south Indian city of Bengaluru, the Times of India reported. The arrest was made possible by deploying technical surveillance, the New Indian Express (TNIE) reported.

These techniques included phone tracing, tracking digital footprints, and monitoring bank transactions, according to a report from NDTV.

The delay in apprehension has been chalked up to the lack of action taken by the airline staff in flight or at the destination airport. After a delayed report, India’s civil aviation regulatory body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), imposed a 30-day flying ban on the passenger - a move that was also criticized widely for lacking severity.

All crew members of the Air India flight have supposedly been called in for questioning regarding their actions, or the lack thereof, following the incident.

The government body has also asked the airline to conduct an internal probe and questioned its failure to follow regulations regarding passengers’ misconduct.

The airline’s chief executive office said Air India has issued show cause notice and de-rostered one pilot and four cabin crew as it investigates the handling of “an unruly passenger on a flight from New York to Delhi in November,” Reuters reported on Saturday.

A second similar incident occurred last month on a flight from Paris to Delhi.

“Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action,” the airline’s CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson added.

Wilson said Air India has initiated multiple measures to improve its response to such incidents, including a review of airline policies and reporting processes.

Mishra has been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 354 (sexual harassment), 294 (obscene act), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person) and section 23 of Air Craft Rules, 1937, TNIE reported.

Mishra served as the Vice President of the Indian outfit of the US financial services giant Wells Fargo. While the allegations have not been proven by the court of law, Wells Fargo has since terminated his employment.

“Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behavior, and we find these allegations deeply disturbing. This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo,” a statement issued on January 6 read.

The following text is an excerpt from the complaint filed on Grievance Air Sewa by the 71-year-old victim, as reported by ANI:

“I would like to submit a complaint about my appalling experience traveling with on Air India Business Class Flight AI102, Seat 9A, from JFK to New Delhi on November 26, 2022. During the course of the flight, shortly after lunch was served and the lights were switched off, a male business class passenger seated in 8A walked to my seat, completely inebriated. He unzipped his pants and urinated on me and kept standing there until the person sitting next to me tapped him and told him to go back to his seat, at which point he staggered back to his seat. I immediately got up to notify the stewardess of what had happened. My clothes, shoes and bag were soaked in urine.”

“The bag contained my passport, travel documents and currency. The flight staff refused to touch them, sprayed my bag and shoes with disinfectant, and took me to the bathroom and gave me a set of airline pyjamas and socks. I asked the staff for a change of seat but was told that no other seats were available. However, another business class passenger who had witnessed my plight and was advocating for me pointed out that there were seats available in first class. The flight crew told me that the pilot had vetoed giving me a seat in first class. After I had been standing for 20 minutes, one of the senior flight staff offered me the small crew seat used by the airline staff, where I sat for about two hours. I was then asked to return to the initial soiled seat. Although the staff had spreadsheets on the seat, the area was still damp and reeking of urine and I refused to sit there. I was then given the steward seat for the rest of the journey.”

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