First, it is not clear if the ban is restricted to Gaikwad’s domestic air travel or will also apply to overseas flights by Indian airlines. Second, is it indefinite?
On the very day that airlines decided to ban Gaikwad from flying, a peculiar situation developed. The crew of a leading airline was on ‘pins and needles’ yesterday evening as there were clear instructions to stop the MP from boarding this flight to Pune and their checklist showed an 'R Gaikwad' booked on this flight. Imagine the crew’s relief when the gentleman in question actually turned out to be “an old man travelling with family,” said a person close to developments. This person said the crew allowed this individual on the flight before confirming he was not the barred MP since the photo of the MP had been circulated beforehand. But how will Air India or any private airline actually implement this decision for other such bans in future?
The violence unleashed by Gaikwad is condemnable in the strongest possible manner but now, after the airlines’ unilateral decision to bar him from flying, countless other men christened ‘Ravindra Gaikwad’ could well face harassment when they want to next take a flight to anywhere in this country. There is no fool proof mechanism in place to implement such a ban, how does only the intended Ravindra Gaikwad get barred from boarding a flight?
An airline veteran spoke of the need to make some sort of identification mandatory while booking domestic tickets, saying linking the process to Aadhar or a passport identification could be a possible solution. If this happens, it is feasible to just block a particular Aadhar number from booking an airline ticket, otherwise the process will remain arbitrary.
25/03/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post