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Police arrest Indian exec for urinating on plane passenger

January 7, 2023

US banking giant Wells Fargo fired Shankar Mishra, a vice president with the company, after he allegedly urinated on an elderly woman on an Air India flight from New York to Delhi.

https://p.dw.com/p/4Lpcz
An Air India flight lands at Vancouver International Airport
The alleged incident took place aboard a flight from New York to Delhi last NovemberImage: Bayne Stanley/ZUMA/picture alliance

Indian police authorities have arrested Shankar Mishra for allegedly urinating on a passenger aboard an Air India flight in November.

Indian media reported that Mishra, formerly an executive with American banking giant Wells Fargo, had urinated on a passenger, an eldery woman, on a flight from New York to Delhi.

Air India has de-rostered four flight crew members and a pilot as a result and announced an internal investigation.

Mishra has been fired by his employer, with Wells Fargo calling the incident "deeply disturbing" on Friday.

Mishra arrested after days on the run

Delhi police officials earlier said Mishra was still at large though they had been in contact with his family.

According to media reports, Mishra had switched off his mobile phone at the beginning of this month but made a credit card transaction in Bangalore city which gave away his location. Mishra was being taken to capital city Delhi for investigation.

Air India has also faced severe criticism for its response to the case — the airline had not filed an official complaint until a more than a month later after the incident took place in November 2022.

The airline's cabin crew has come under fire for allowing the man to walk away after they had been notified about it.

India's aviation safety regulator slammed the airline for their "unprofessional conduct" in a press statement on Friday.

What happened on the flight?

Mishra, who was drunk on the flight, unzipped his pants and urinated on the elderly woman, according to media reports.

The news came to light after an Indian newspaper published the complaint written by the elderly woman to the chairman of the company that owns the airline.

The complaint came after a member of her family wrote to the airlines about the ordeal immediately after the incident took place on November 26.

The woman passenger wrote in her complaint that, "After changing, I stood near the toilet for about 20 minutes. I asked for a change of seat, but was informed that there were no seats available.”

She said that, "One of the senior stewardesses came after 20 minutes and offered me the small seat used by the airline staff, where I sat for about an hour. I was then asked to return to my initial soiled seat. Although the staff had put sheets on top, the area was still damp and reeking of urine."

She added that, "Two hours later, I was given the steward’s seat, where I sat for the remainder of the flight — approximately 5 hours."

The woman said that when Mishra sobered up, he apologized and began crying. He allegedly begged her not to lodge any complaints.

However, Mishra released a statement through an attorney stating that he had already reached a settlement with the woman he allegedly urinated on, from Karnataka, and paid her compensation.

Air India criticized over handling of case

Air India was recently acquired by Tata Group after decades under state control. The airline has faced heavy criticism for how it has handled the woman's complaint.

The aviation regulatory body in India has criticized the airline for not reporting the incident.

In a statement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said, "The conduct of the concerned airline appears to be unprofessional and has led to a systemic failure."

rm, ar/aw, jcg (AFP, Reuters)