Union minister KJ Alphons was confronted by an enraged woman passenger at the Imphal airport over the delay in her Kolkata-bound flight she was taking to rush to Patna to attend a funeral of her relative.
Alphons on Wednesday said he was not responsible for the delay of the flight due to VVIP security protocol after a video footage of the passenger identified as a lady doctor arguing and directing her ire at him on seeing the minister at the Imphal airport went viral.
The video of the incident that happened yesterday showed the woman complaining to Alphons about the flight being delayed due to VIP movement.
Alphons, who is Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, had come to Imphal to attend the Northeast Development summit which was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday. President Kovind’s aircraft was due to land in Imphal around the time of departure of the Kolkata-bound aircraft.
“I have to reach Patna. The body is waiting, otherwise the body will decay. I am a doctor, I know that. The body is still at home,” the woman can be heard pleading with Alphons, who tries to soothe her anger. She was also heard asking Alphons to give in writing what time her flight would take off.
The woman was booked on an IndiGo flight from Imphal to Kolkata from where she had to take a connecting flight to Patna.
On her repeated insistence to give her in writing as to what time the flight would depart, the minister is heard saying he does not have the authority to do so.
When contacted, Imphal Airport Director S K Panigrahi told PTI over phone at Kolkata that three flights were delayed due to the visit of President Kovind to the state yesterday.
“The commercial flights were delayed since the President’s flight was scheduled to arrive,” he said, adding none of the flights were cancelled.
The airport director said the three commercial flights were delayed between 90 minutes and two hours.
According to Alphons, he approached a woman crying at the airport and who could be seen in the video losing her cool.
“She was crying and I wanted to know what happened. She started saying that she had to go to Patna to attend a relative’s funeral which was scheduled in the afternoon. She was distraught because her flight was delayed and she feared the body will decay.
“As a representative of the government of India, she wanted me to intervene,” Alphons told PTI, amid allegations that he was the cause for the delay of the flight.
He was accompanied by some of his ministerial colleagues.
“I can understand her anguish but as I told her, the President’s flight was landing and as per protocol no other flight can land or take off at that time.
“This protocol is in place for the past 70 years and not made by this government. I tried to tell her that her flight will leave as soon as the President’s flight lands, but she was really in distress,” Alphons said.
The minister also said that he “was not in favour” of protocols that encourage VIP culture and that he has also informed officials that a pilot jeep should not be assigned for him.