Sexual harassment cases are being "often" witnessed in Air India and the airline needs to come down "very, very heavily" on such offenders, its Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told employees Thursday. On Wednesday, the national carrier said that it has set up a high-level inquiry to probe a sexual harassment complaint filed against a commander by a woman pilot. "It is shameful that sexual harassment cases are being often witnessed in Air India. We need to come down very, very heavily on such offenders," Lohani said in a text message to employees.
According to a complaint filed by the pilot, the alleged incident took place on May 5 at Hyderabad where the female pilot was being trained by the commander. An Air India spokesperson said Wednesday, "As soon as the matter came to our notice, we immediately set up a high-level enquiry."
In the complaint, the pilot has alleged that the instructor suggested that the two should have dinner at a restaurant in Hyderabad after the training session was over on May 5.
"We went to (a) restaurant at around 8 pm and this is where my ordeal started.... He started with telling me how depressed and unhappy he was in his married life," the complainant says in her complaint. "He also asked me how I coped with my husband living away and whether I didn't need to have sex everyday. He asked me if I masturbated, etc," she alleged. "At some point I told him I did not want to talk about all this and called a cab."
The pilot alleged that the commander's behaviour worsened during the half-hour wait for the cab. "I was left shocked at this behaviour and felt extremely uncomfortable, scared and humiliated." The woman said she felt "morally obliged" to report this matter to the airline so that such behaviour is not repeated with anyone else in the future.