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Specially-abled child barred from boarding flight: DGCA forms 3-member fact-finding team

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New Delhi, May 09: Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) has formed a 3-member team for 'fact-finding enquiry' into a specially-abled child who was barred from boarding IndiGO flight in Ranchi.

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'They will visit Ranchi and Hyderabad (place of stay of the family concerned) and collect appropriate evidence within one week from today. Based on the outcome of the said enquiry, further action shall entail,'' the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) noted in a statement.

The regulator said it has received a report from IndiGo regarding Saturday's incident.

However, in view of the facts and circumstances described therein, the regulator has decided to conduct a fact-finding enquiry, which shall be done by its three-member team, it mentioned.

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta expressed regret over the incident and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the specially-abled child. Dutta said the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances. Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Twitter that no human being should have to go through this and he himself is investigating the Ranchi incident.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked the Jharkhand police to lodge an FIR against IndiGo as there was a prima facie violation of section 7 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, which is cognisable in nature.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar told PTI on Sunday that the aviation regulator has sought a report from IndiGo on the matter. The DGCA is probing the incident and will take appropriate action, he said.

In a statement, Dutta said, "We recognise too well that parents who dedicate their lives to the caring of physically-challenged persons are the true heroes of our society.

"We offer our sincere regrets to the affected family for the unfortunate experience and as a small token of our appreciation of their lifelong dedication, would like to offer to purchase an electric wheelchair for their son."

As the boy was prohibited from boarding the airline's Ranchi-Hyderabad flight on Saturday, his parents -- who were accompanying him -- also decided not to enter the plane.

Dutta said, "Having reviewed all aspects of this incident, we as an organisation are of the view that we made the best possible decision under difficult circumstances." "Throughout the check-in and boarding process, our intent of course was to carry the family. However, at the boarding area, the teenager was visibly in panic," he added.

While providing courteous and compassionate service to the customers is of paramount importance to the airline, the airport staff, in line with the safety guidelines, were forced to make a difficult decision as to whether this commotion would carry forward aboard the aircraft, the IndiGo CEO stated.

"All of us at IndiGo are truly distressed by this particular incident," he said. Since April, the airline has carried over 75,000 specially-abled passengers in its flights and its crew and airport staff are trained to serve such passengers sensitively, Dutta added.

According to DGCA regulations issued in 2017, passengers who are likely to be unruly and disruptive must be carefully monitored and if deemed to pose a threat to the safety and security of a flight, fellow passengers or the staff on board the plane, they should be refused embarkation. "Airline shall establish mechanism to detect and report unruly passenger behaviour at check-in, in the lounges and at the boarding gate in order to prevent such passengers from boarding," the regulations said.

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