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'Dangal' Actor Zaira Wasim Molested On Delhi-Mumbai Flight
Actor Zaira Wasim has alleged she was molested by a co-passenger on board a Delhi-Mumbai flight, prompting the Maharashtra State Commission for Women to seek an inquiry into the "shameful" incident.
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The police has registered a case against an unknown person in connection with the incident.
The airline also apologised to Wasim for the incident and said it was carrying out a probe into it, while asserting that it has "zero tolerance" for such behaviour. The "Dangal" actor narrated her ordeal on Instagram via live video.
Wasim said she was on a Vistara flight last night from Delhi to Mumbai when a co-passenger sitting behind her put up his feet on her armrest.
"So, I was in a flight travelling from Delhi to Mumbai today and right behind me one middle-aged man who made my two-hour journey miserable. I tried to record it on phone to understand it better because the cabin lights were dimmed, I failed to get it...," she said.
"The lights were dimmed, so it was even worse. It continued for another five to ten minutes and then I was sure of it. He kept nudging my shoulder and continued to move his foot up and down my back and neck," the Kashmiri teen, who shot to fame for her stellar performance in Aamir Khan's blockbuster "Dangal", said in the post.
In the video, which Wasim recorded immediately after deboarding the flight, the 17-year-old actor broke down several times.
"This is not done, I am disturbed... Is this how you're going to take care of girls? This is not the way anybody should be made to feel. This is terrible!" she said.
"No one will help us if we don't decide to help ourselves. And this is the worst thing," she added.
Terming the incident as "shameful", Maharashtra State Commission for Women's (MSCW) chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar said they will seek a detailed inquiry into it from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
"The commission will direct the DGCA to conduct an inquiry in the matter and will also inquire into the steps taken by Vistara to address the complaint," Rahatkar said.
She demanded that there should also be an inquiry into why the cabin crew did not help the actor.
"We have directed the Mumbai Police to look into the matter immediately. It is sad that none of the co-passengers came ahead to help Wasim. We are with her, and will ensure she gets justice," Rahatkar said.
A woman police official was sent to the hotel in Mumbai where the actor is put up, to record her statement, a senior police official said.
Based on her statement, a case was registered at the Sahar police station against the unknown person under IPC section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, since the actor is a minor, Sahar's senior police inspector Lata Shirsat said.
"We are enquiring with the airport authorities and the airline concerned to establish the identity of the person," another police official said.
The aviation regulator DGCA has sought a report on the incident from the airline, sources said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was "appalled" by the incident and demanded swift action against the culprit.
"Any harassment/crime against women shld be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened with @zairawasimz. Hope the relevant authorities take strict action," she tweeted.
Former J and K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also demanded action against the passenger. "The passenger should be identified to the police by @airvistara and a case filed for legal action. None of this "he fell at my feet so I forgive him" rubbish!" Abdullah posted.
Earlier in a statement on Twitter, the airline Vistara said it would look into the complaint, and added that it had "zero tolerance for such behaviour".
"We @airvistara have seen the reports regarding @ZairaWasimmm experience with another customer on board our flight last night. We are carrying out detailed investigation and will support Zaira in every way required. We have zero tolerance for such behaviour."
Later, Vistara's chief strategy and commercial officer Sanjiv Kapoor in a statement said, "We are aware of the incident reported by Zaira Wasim on board our flight UK981 last night from Delhi to Mumbai. We are carrying out a detailed investigation of the incident which apparently involved a male passenger on the flight."
"We are talking to our crew who were serving Wasim to understand the incident at greater length, and reaching out to fellow passengers as well. We will support Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report the matter to the police," he said.
Kapoor said it appears the crew only became aware of something amiss during final descent when they were seated for landing.
Further details will come from the investigation which is currently going on in full force, he said. "We apologise for what she experienced and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour," Kapoor said.
Condemning the incident, Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said a criminal offence should be registered against the male passenger and he should be asked to apologise for the indecent behaviour.
"Those travelling by airlines usually work on good positions in companies. If the owners of such companies do not take suitable action against such employees their conduct will never change," Gorhe said.