Air India 'pee-gate': Who is Shankar Mishra, the man accused of allegedly urinating on an elderly co-passenger
Shankar Mishra has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. He allegedly urinated on an elderly co-passenger aboard a New York-New Delhi Air India plane. The event has drawn significant flak on the behavior of disruptive passengers on airplanes. As per the latest developments, Mishra was arrested in Bengaluru days after evading the police. The event first came to light earlier this week, and since then, there have been allegations that the airline failed to act swiftly and appropriately to penalize the accused.
Who is Shankar Mishra?
Shankar Mishra, 34, worked at Wells Fargo, a major provider of financial services in the US. He was the vice president of the worldwide organization's India Chapter, which had its headquarters in California. He routinely travelled between Mumbai and Bengaluru, where he had offices.
As the scandal made news on Friday, Mishra was fired from the company. In a statement announcing his dismissal, Wells Fargo said that 'it holds its employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour, and “we find these allegations deeply disturbing.”
He is a resident of Mumbai and is known as ‘Suraj’ in Kamgar Nagar, where he has been staying for the past 20 years as reported by the Indian Express who spoke to his neighbours.
He is an alumnus of the Marsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), a private university in Mumbai, and is referred to as "Suraj M" on LinkedIn, according to Newsroompost.
Shankar Mishra's arrest: Case so far
In the business class of an Air India aircraft on November 26, 2021, Mishra is said to have urinated on his woman co-passenger, an elderly citizen in her 70s. He was allegedly intoxicated when the incident took place.
The lawsuit claims that Mishra stood beside the woman's seat even while his body parts were exposed.
He has been sent to judicial detention for 14 days by a Delhi court.
What did Air India do immediately after the incident took place?
The Air India crew allegedly took Mishra to the woman after the episode and told her he wanted to apologise to her, according to NDTV reports.
The passenger expressed her disappointment in the cabin staff in a letter to Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekharan, claiming that they were insensitive to the circumstances. According to NDTV, the woman said in her lawsuit that she was compelled to face him while he begged for mercy.
As per the latest reports by PTI, a co-passenger on the New York-New Delhi aircraft has claimed that after the Mumbai man urinated on the female co-passenger, the captain made the victim wait for over two hours before assigning her a new seat.
In a handwritten complaint to the airline, Sugata Bhattacharjee, a US-based audiologist who was travelling to Delhi in business class adjacent to the accused, said that the woman passenger was forced to return to her soiled seat despite there being four vacant first-class seats.
What is the action being taken by DGCA?
In relation to the incident, the airline was asked to submit a report by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday. “We are seeking a report from the airline and shall take action against those found negligent,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar told Indian Express.
Air India has imposed a 30-day travel ban on Mishra stating that that the “passenger behaved in an unacceptable and undignified manner.”
A police complaint was filed against the accused and the airline said that it would fully cooperate to “ensure that justice is delivered to the aggrieved passenger.”
Sanjay Mishra arrested in Bengaluru
The accused was arrested on Saturday (6 January) in Bengaluru after evading the police for many days. He was allegedly arrested while residing at a homestay in Bengaluru's Sanjay Nagar, as per TOI reports.
After Mishra retreated and declined to cooperate with the inquiry, the Delhi Police filed a Look Out Circular (LOC) against him.
A case was registered against Mishra under sections 294 (obscene act in a 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) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as under Aircraft Rules, reported India Today.
What is Shankar Mishra's family saying?
Speaking to India Today TV, Shyam Mishra, Shankar Mishra's father said, "This is a totally false case. My son was traveling from the US. He had not slept for 72 hours. He might have taken a drink on the flight and slept. What happened after that even he doesn't know. It's very difficult to prove."
Additionally, the father denied that his son had peed on the woman. "I don't think he would have done this. The woman is 72 years old, she is like a mother to him," he said, adding that there are no eyewitnesses to the incident.
Was the co-passenger compensated by Shankar Mishra?
On Friday, Mishra's lawyers said that their client had compensated the woman with Rs 15,000 and cleaned her belongings.
A statement made by his lawyers, Ishanee Sharma and Akshat Bajpai, stated that the 34-year-old had the woman's clothing and baggage cleaned on November 28 and handed to her on November 30, reported PTI.
The statement read, “The woman in her message has clearly condoned the alleged act and has displayed no intention to lodge a complaint. The lady’s persisting grievance was only with respect to the adequate compensation being paid by the Airline for which she has raised a subsequent complaint on 20 December 2022.”
Statement from the woman and her relatives
The woman's relatives allegedly refuted the story and claimed to have given the money back.
According to a PTI report, Mishra allegedly messaged her following the unpleasant event. The chats demonstrate that the lady gave Mishra her phone number and confirmed receiving Rs 5,000. Her daughter and son-in-law, however, were quite angry over the situation. The lady informed Mishra that she had talked them out of complaining because he was so contrite and uninformed of what had happened.
In a string of messages, the woman said that she hoped Mishra will mend his ways. The latter responded by thanking her and promising he will never repeat such an act.
A day later, Mishra informed her about the clothes and shoes that will be “refurbished” in a day or two. He also mentioned having sent her another Rs 10,000 as compensation.
On the other hand, the report states that on December 19, the woman's daughter allegedly wrote a message claiming that her mother had been traumatised by the incident and that the family was extremely "upset, indignant, and enraged."
The money will be refunded by Paytm and the statement noted that the family did not want it. The woman's daughter further instructed Mishra not to speak to her mother again. Also sent was a screen capture of the money-returning transaction.