Monday, November 19, 2018

Musician Shubhendra Rao accuses airline of breaking his sitar

Bengaluru: Indian classical musician Shubhendra Rao treasured his sitar like a prized possession, which he used to “take care of like a child”. When he recently embarked on a journey from Sidney to Delhi, he did take all the possible precautions — kept the instrument in an unbreakable fibre glass box and wrapped it using a rexin cover with thin padding.

But when he got the baggage back, he was in for a rude shock. The sitar was broken badly and was in an unrepairable condition.

Rao, 53, from Bengaluru currently lives in New Delhi and is a disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar.

On September 24, Rao travelled by an Australian Airlines flight from Sidney to Delhi via Bangkok. The last segment of the flight from Bangkok to New Delhi was on Jet Airways, which damaged his sitar, he alleges.

He compares the loss of the instrument to that of his third hand. “I had taken care of it like my own child so far. Is it not the responsibility of the airlines to ensure that it’s given back properly? If treated well, it wouldn’t have been damaged but when there’s vandalism involved, nothing can save the fragile instrument,” says Rao.

When he contacted Australian Airlines, he was asked to contact the second airline for queries. However, Jet Airways said no compensation could be paid. “All fragile baggage accepted on board are tagged with a ‘limited release’ tag, which indicates that the airline has no liability in the event of damage to the article. The article is not accepted till the guest signs on the tag, which you did,” Jet Airways told Rao on September 28, a copy of which is with TOI.
19/11/18 Sunitha Rao/Times of India