The incident occurred mid-flight on Wednesday night while most of the passengers on board were asleep.
The two youths, Swasthik Pathak and Amit Patel, were taken into custody after the flight landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) on Thursday evening.
On November 14, Pathak and Patel boarded Air India flight 144 from New Jersey. The flight was non-stop and was scheduled to reach Mumbai on the evening of November 15.
A few hours after take-off, the two began drinking and became inebriated. Late after dinner, while all the other passengers were asleep, the duo began misbehaving with crewmembers.
A co-passenger said, “Both the youths were using extremely foul language. When staff members tried to subdue them, the situation went out of control.”
Another passenger added that despite being heavily drunk, Patel was asking for more alcohol, after which he collapsed in the aisle.
As crewmembers tried to pick him up, the duo assaulted the staff.
They also threatened the crewmembers, saying their fathers were very influential and that they would sue the airlines.
Following the outburst, the pilot announced that the plan was to make an emergency landing near Europe. However, cabin crew took hold of the situation and tied both the youths to their seats.
The plane landed at Mumbai at 5 pm on Thursday, after which a standby team of CISF and police personnel nabbed the miscreants and took them to Sahar police station.
Senior Inspector Jayprakash Giram of Sahar police station said, “They were charged under Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.”
MiD DAY learnt that initially, the investigating officer at Sahar police station, PSI Narayan Shirgaonkar was not keen on filing the case, and it was only done after MiD DAY’s inquiry late on Thursday night.
PSI Shirgaonkar also misled MiD DAY several times, giving varying accounts on the arrest of the two individuals.
When MiD DAY contacted PSI Shirgaonkar at 10 am the next day, he mentioned that both youths had been produced at court, given bail and released.
However, a holiday court was operating in Bandra, which only starts at noon. Interestingly, it was later learnt that both the accused were never presented in court and were released on bail at the police station that very morning.
Shirgaonkar said, “As it is a matter pertaining to American citizens, we have to first take permission from the American consulate before we disclose more information.”