Union minister 'slaps' airline's staff

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Patna, Nov 4 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Akhilesh Prasad Singh allegedly assaulted the Station Manager of a private airline here last night for not being allowed to board its Kolkata-bound flight.

The incident has generated furore and large-scale resentment among the airline's staff here, following which an FIR was lodged in the Patna Airport police station by the airline's Station Manager after midnight.

The police today said the incident took place when Mr Singh, who had earlier booked a ticket for Kolkata in the private airline's late evening flight but later cancelled it through his travel agent, arrived at the airport barely 10 minutes before departure of the flight at 2030 hrs.

He was informed that his ticket had already been cancelled and that he was too late for boarding the flight as the pilot had already started the engine.

Infuriated, the RJD minister reportedly stormed into the airline's Station Manager's cabin and sought an explanation.

He also wanted to be allowed to board the flight.

But when Station Manager S N Das refused, the angry minister reportedly slapped and abused him publicly and left the airport.

He later left for Kolkata by train.

The airline's officials here held an emergency meeting and besides informing the matter to the higher authorities,lodged an FIR against the minister.

The incident caused resentment among the airline's employees, who demanded an unconditional apology from the Union Minister for his 'dastardly act'.

However, on his arrival in Kolkata today, Mr Singh denied having slapped and abused the Station Manager after he was denied a boarding pass.

Mr Singh is an MP of the RJD and a close ally of the ruling UPA at the Centre.

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