New Delhi: Three passengers, including a child, were allegedly offloaded from an Air India aircraft flying from Leh to Delhi to accommodate minister of state (MoS) for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and his aide.
The aircraft doors were shut for takeoff on June 24 but the flight did not depart at its scheduled time as Rijiju, reportedly along with his assistant, had to be onboard.
Rijiju, however, denied the allegations and said he was not aware of any such incident. "I am totally unaware whether anyone was asked to deboard. If it was done, it is completely wrong and unacceptable," he said.
Rijiju told PTI from Darjeeling that he was returning to Delhi after taking part in the "Sindhu Darshan" festival on June 24 along with Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh in an Air India flight which was "suddenly rescheduled".
"I was supposed to return from Leh in a helicopter. But due to bad weather, the helicopter could not fly out from Srinagar. The Jammu and Kashmir deputy CM asked me to accompany him in the Air India flight which was supposed to depart at 11:40am.
"But to our utter surprise, when we reached the Leh airport at 10:20am, we found that the door of the aircraft was closed and it was about to take off. The deputy chief minister lodged a strong protest with the civil aviation minister for the unannounced rescheduling of the aircraft," the Union minister said.
He claimed it was not a "delay" and the flight was rescheduled due to technical reasons.
"The departure was at 1140 hrs... I don't know... somehow there was a rescheduling issue... It was not a delay... it was a communication gap," Rijiju said.
Meanwhile, an Air India spokesperson said they have sought more details about the incident....