January 17, 2023 09:29 pm | Updated January 18, 2023 10:12 am IST – CHENNAI/ NEW DELHI
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya found himself at the centre of yet another controversy after it emerged that he had opened the emergency exit door on an IndiGo flight from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli last month.
A co-passenger The Hindu spoke to confirmed that Mr. Surya was on the ATR 72 aircraft on the window seat at the front, which had the emergency exit. He was seated next to Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai.
The incident happened on IndiGo flight 6E 7339 on December 10, 2022, when the cabin crew were giving safety instructions to passengers seated in the emergency row. An airline spokesperson said, without naming the passenger, that he unknowingly touched the handle on the emergency door as he stood up, which unhinged the latch.
Party sources confirmed that Mr. Surya and Mr. Annamalai were travelling in the flight to Tiruchi on December 10 to attend an event of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, of which Mr. Surya is the president.
Corroborating the account that the emergency exit was opened by Mr. Surya, the person said that all the passengers had to be deboarded as a result, causing the flight to be delayed by two hours. The passenger said they were told that the emergency exit was “accidentally” opened.
“A passenger accidentally opened the emergency exit while the boarding process was on. The passenger immediately apologised for their action. As per SOPs [standard operating procedure], the incident was logged and the aircraft underwent mandatory engineering checks, which led to a delay in the flight’s departure,” the airline said in a statement.
The airline spokesperson denied that the passengers were deboarded or that the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was called. It also said that it didn’t report the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as the incident happened while the aircraft was on ground.
“All appropriate airworthiness actions such as reinstalling the door, pressurisation check were carried out before the release of the aircraft for departure. No safety was compromised,” Director General of DGCA Arun Kumar said.