New Delhi: American multinational company Wells Fargo on Friday, January 6, sacked Shankar Mishra, vice-president of its India’s operations, in connection with allegations that he urinated in an inebriated condition on an elderly co-passenger aboard a Delhi-New York Air India flight in November 2022.
A media statement issued by the company said, “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour and we find these allegations deeply disturbing. This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them.”
Mishra is missing, and a lookout notice or airport alert has been put out as the police hunt for him, according to NDTV. “Mishra is a resident of Mumbai. We had sent our teams to Mumbai at his known locations, but he was absconding. Our teams are trying to trace him,” Delhi Police said on Thursday, January 5, according to moneycontrol.com.
Meanwhile, Mishra’s father, Shyam Mishra, on Friday, January 6, dismissed it as a “totally false case”, according to news agency ANI. “This is a totally false case. My son hadn’t slept for 30-35 hours. After dinner, he might’ve consumed the drink given by the crew and then slept. From what I understand, he was questioned by airline staff after he woke up.”
Continuing further, he said, “I don’t think he would do it. She (the victim) is a 72-year-old woman, she is like his mother. He (the accused, his son) is a 34-year-old man. How can he do it? He is married and has an 18-year-old daughter.”
While adding that there were no eyewitnesses to the incident, he said, “She (victim) had demanded payment and it was made. Don’t know what happened next. Must have demanded something that perhaps wasn’t met that upset her. Perhaps there was blackmailing, there must be something.”
On November 26, Mishra, who was traveling in a business class, unzipped his pants and peed on a woman sitting next to him. He then pleaded with the woman in her 70s not to report the matter to the police, saying that it would impact his wife and child.
The issue came to light only earlier this week. A case has been registered against Mishra under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 294 (obscene act in public place), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), and 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person), as well as under Aircraft Rules.
There has also been widespread criticism over the way Air India handled the incident. The airline filed a police complaint only this week, and said as there was “no further flare-up or confrontation”, and “respecting the perceived wishes of the female passenger, the crew elected not to summon law enforcement upon landing”, according to NDTV.
Meanwhile, the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has now warned of strict action if airline staff fail to act against passengers who are unruly or behave inappropriately. It said Air India’s conduct appeared to be “unprofessional”, and that prima facie, it seemed that provisions related to the handling of unruly passengers were not complied with.