Mumbai, (The Hindu): A woman cabin crew member of low-cost airline SpiceJet’s Hyderabad base has alleged a strip search, harassment, torture and inhuman behaviour by the security and ground staff of the airline.
In a letter to the airline’s chairman Ajay Singh, the crew member said that the airline’s staff frisked her private parts, thus violating her.
A copy of the letter is with The Hindu. The crew member’s name has been withheld to protect her identity.
SpiceJet said in a statement that it was a standard operating procedure to prevent smuggling and pilferage by the crew.
The crew member, who has worked with the airline for five years and claims to have an excellent service record, wrote in the letter: “We were treated as criminals the moment we stepped down from the aircraft. Two male ground staff escorted us, one at the front and the other at the rear, from the aircraft to the crew vehicle till the crew dispatch.”
“They took both of us [she and a colleague] to a room where already four or five female ground staff were waiting with the in-flight coordinator of the Hyderabad base. They said they needed to check our bags and everything on an order from the higher management and we should cooperate,” she said in the letter.
“They made us open our shoes and checked the heels of the shoes. After the bag check was over, we were treated in an inhuman way,” the letter said.
“The staff forced us to take off our undergarments and we were frisked maliciously and in an inappropriate manner, which I am ashamed to mention here,” the letter said. “They unzipped our uniforms, put their hands inside it and frisked our private body parts, violating our fundamental right to privacy to the core. After the checks and frisking was over, we were told we can leave the room with our scattered bags and belongings.”
“I was completing my post-flight work when they called me and said they need to frisk my body again and took me to that room. The second-time frisking was worse and beyond imagination,” the letter said.
When she insisted on taking a video of the incident, their phones were taken away and switched off.
SpiceJet, in a statement, said: “As per security and safety SOP, random ‘pat down’ search is conducted on various employees, including cabin crew, from time to time — a global industry practice. One of the objectives of this search is to ensure that there is no pilferage of company moneys/goods, smuggling or any illegal activity that an employee may be lured into.”
“This search essentially is the same as what any passenger goes through at any of the Indian airports while going through security check.
These searches are conducted as per strict norms laid down by security agencies in closed rooms, and by well-trained employees of the same gender.”
The airline added, “Based on a specific security tip-off following certain recent instances in other airlines, SpiceJet’s security team undertook searches at a few of our stations on the night of 28/29 March. A few cases of pilferage were detected and appropriate disciplinary action has been initiated.”
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